Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Bill Designates The Little Manatee River a National “Scenic” River

Jul 12, 2021
Press Release
Designation Protects River for Generations to Come
Conserving Florida’s Lands and Pristine Waterways a ‘Top Priority’

BRADENTON, Fla. – Congressman Vern Buchanan recently introduced bipartisan legislation to designate the Little Manatee River as a national “scenic” river.

The Little Manatee Wild and Scenic River Act would formally designate the approximately 51-mile long segment of the river, beginning at its source in southeastern Hillsborough County flowing downstream to the point at which the river enters Tampa Bay, as a scenic river.

Designating the river as scenic would add Little Manatee River to the National Park Service’s Wild and Scenic River System, whose primary goal is to conserve free-flowing rivers across the United States.

The designation will protect this river for public enjoyment without the fear of intrusive development. The designation ensures the river remains available for a full range of recreational activities, such as canoeing, kayaking, boating and fishing.

“Protecting Florida’s beautiful lands and pristine waterways should always be a top priority,” said Buchanan. “Southwest Florida is blessed with many natural treasures including Sarasota Bay, Emerson Point Preserve and Myakka River State Park. Designating the Little Manatee River as ‘scenic’ will ensure that it is kept in its current pristine condition for future generations to enjoy.”

Buchanan was joined by Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL) as an original co-sponsor, who is leading a similar effort to designate portions of the Kissimmee River as a component of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

Once formally added to the National Park Service’s Wild and Scenic River System, the National Park Service would collaborate with local government officials in Florida to develop a management plan for the Little Manatee River. The management plan must include how the existing natural environment will be preserved including allowing for continued public use. The plan is designed to achieve the “goal of protecting and enhancing the values that caused it to be designated.”

“We are so blessed to have so many beautiful natural resources in Manatee and protecting them should always come first,” said Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh. “I thank Congressman Buchanan for his diligence in staying the course to get this waterway protected so that we can all enjoy it for years to come.  This waterway is one of the most beautiful in our area and it is full of wildlife and fish that we need to make sure remain and with this designation we will make sure it is always as beautiful tomorrow as it is today.”

“From canoeing and fishing for bass or panfish upriver to skiing and fishing for various saltwater species downriver, this natural treasure has much to offer in terms of recreation and scenic beauty,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White. “I have spent a lifetime enjoying all that this river has to offer and my hope is to see it preserved for many more generations of Hillsborough County residents to enjoy. We are blessed to have such a beautiful river right in our own backyard.”

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress in 1968 to safeguard rivers and encourage robust river management that promotes public participation in developing goals for river protection. The Loxahatchee River and the Wekiva River are the only rivers in Florida currently recognized under the federal program. 

The Little Manatee River is also recognized at the state level as an ‘Outstanding Florida Water’ and is one of the most pristine blackwater rivers in the state.

Buchanan has a long history fighting to protect water quality and the environment in Florida and elsewhere, including leading efforts in Congress to increase federal funding into red tide research and reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Last Congress, Buchanan co-chaired a bipartisan meeting of the 29-member Florida congressional delegation focused on combating red tide, toxic algae and examining other water quality issues. Additionally, the Congressman was one of 38 Republicans to vote to increase funding for the National Estuary Program and evaluate the impact of climate change on estuaries.