Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

President Signs Buchanan-Backed Bill Protecting Sarasota Bay

May 21, 2016
Press Release
Bay Supports 21,000 Jobs and Plays Key Role In Suncoast Economy

Home to Over 1,400 Plants and Animals

WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan, a strong advocate of local conservation and wildlife protection, announced today that President Obama has signed legislation to protect Sarasota Bay and other national estuaries.

The bill was approved by the House recently with Buchanan’s support.

Sarasota Bay is one of only 28 ecosystems in the entire country that have been formally designated by Congress as an “estuary of national significance.” It was officially recognized in 1989. The bay lies between the barrier islands, or keys, that separate it from the Gulf of Mexico and the mainland.

The legislation reauthorizes the federal government’s National Estuary Program through 2021 and provides critical resources to protect and restore the country’s vital estuaries and vulnerable wildlife. It specifically authorizes $132.5 million over five years to help states and local partnerships develop and implement conservation and managements plans and address threats to estuaries.

“Sarasota Bay is a key contributor to the Suncoast’s economy,” Buchanan said. “In fact, researchers have found that 21,000 jobs depends on the bay. The bay provides crucial habitat for plants and wildlife including the iconic Florida manatee, the bald eagle, osprey, sea turtles, and bottlenose dolphins.”

Estuaries, or bodies of water and their surrounding coastal habitats, are typically found where rivers flow into the open sea. They are home to some very unique plants and animals. They are also some of the most productive ecosystems in the world – many animal species rely on estuaries for primary sources of food, nesting and breeding.

However, estuaries have particularly sensitive ecosystems and are highly threatened by stormwater pollution, loss of habitat, loss of wetlands, and diminished seagrass.

Sarasota Bay is home to more than 1,400 native species of diverse plants and animals and it contributes nearly $1.8 billion to Florida’s economy, according to the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program.

Buchanan has an extensive record of preserving Florida’s waterways and pristine coastline. The Congressman is a longtime opponent to drilling off the Gulf Coast. Moreover, to protect native coral and preserve healthy seas, Buchanan introduced the Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act (H.R. 2553), bipartisan legislation that promotes further research into the potentially devastating effects of ocean acidification.

Additionally, Buchanan recently co-sponsored bipartisan legislation (H.R. 4667) that would direct the federal government to expedite necessary repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike, which has been rated as “critically near failure” by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. If this structure were to collapse, it would flood populated areas as well as the delicate wetlands ecosystem of the Everglades with waters from Lake Okeechobee.