Whitman approves Charlotte Harbor restoration plan

EPA has approved an agreement among a wide range of public and private organizations on their plans for an innovative program to restore Florida's Charlotte Harbor Estuary.

Jun 8th, 2001

June 7, 2001—Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christie Whitman today announced that she has approved an agreement among a wide range of public and private organizations on their plans for an innovative program to restore Florida's Charlotte Harbor Estuary.

"I am pleased that this important, cooperative effort to provide cleaner water and better habitat for fish and wildlife in the Charlotte Harbor is moving forward," said Whitman. "This lovely area deserves to be restored, and the National Estuary Program will help leverage the funds to make recovery a reality."

"This plan is an excellent example of the commitment by the citizens of Florida, in partnership with their State and Federal governments, toward the promise of a sustainable Greater Charlotte Harbor area," said Florida Governor Jeb Bush. "This undertaking will ensure that Florida's future generations have outdoor memories to cherish just as we have today. I am pleased that this cooperative conservation effort will now move forward."

The conservation plan was forwarded to EPA in January by Governor Bush. The State of Florida nominated the Charlotte Harbor Estuary to the National Estuary Program in 1995. It was established as a "Preservation Estuary" recognizing that it is still a fairly healthy estuary. The plan was developed by representatives from the private and public sectors, including government, industry, business, environmental and public interest groups.

With the Administrator's approval of the Charlotte Harbor restoration plan, called the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP), 24 of the 28 National Estuary Programs now have approved CCMPs.

"The plan is an outstanding example of watershed and community-based environmental management," said Whitman, "and demonstrates how targeted federal assistance can serve as a catalyst to achieve major state and local resource commitments."

The Charlotte Harbor National Estuary is located on Florida's southwest coast, north of Naples and south of Sarasota. The greater Charlotte Harbor watershed encompasses an area of over 4,400 square miles on Florida's southwest coast, and includes three main river systems. The area's scenic vistas, opportunities for bird and wildlife watching, and world-famous Tarpon fishing make it a popular tourist destination.

The plan addresses water quality degradation, fish and wildlife habitat loss, and hydrological alterations. In the first phase of the plan's implementation, projects are being conducted by more than 40 organizations.

Since 1995, the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program has received approximately $2.5 million from EPA under the Clean Water Act for development of the management plan. Additional funds will be available to support implementation activities.

For additional information on Charlotte Harbor and the National Estuary Program, see EPA's estuaries Web site at: http://www.epa.gov/owow/estuaries, the Charlotte Harbor estuary Web site at: http://www.charlotteharbornep.com or call Rudy Rudolph, Director of the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, at 941-995-1777.

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