In the short clip below, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis shared his vision for the future of water management in southwest Florida at with local media and staff at Rookery Bay Research Reserve on Jan. 29. Following a brief introduction by DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein, Govenor DeSantis’ announcement included the appointment of Chauncey Goss to the South Florida Water Management District, plans for reducing stormwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee to Florida’s east and west coasts, adding more culverts or bridges under U.S. 41 to allow more sheetflow to reach the Ten Thousand Islands and Florida Bay estuaries, and the creation of the new Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection. Several local broadcast news stations provided real-time coverage of the announcement providing amazing exposure for DEP, Rookery Bay Research Reserve and Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center.
How does this affect Rookery Bay?
While reducing freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee and the future efforts of the new Blue-Green Algae Task Force would benefit water quality for all of southern Florida, $6 million for the Resilient Coastlines Program and the new Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection will have the biggest effect on Florida’s three NERRS and 41 Aquatic Preserves, which are managed by the new office (formerly known as Florida Coastal Office).
According to the vision, that program will now do more to “help prepare Florida’s communities and habitats for changes resulting from sea level rise by providing funding and technical assistance and continuing to promote and ensure a coordinated approach to planning among state, regional and local agencies. The increased funding for coastal resiliency grants will also help protect Florida’s coral reefs, which serve as the state’s first line of defense from storm surge and are a major tourism attraction, and support emergency sand placement to help fortify coastal areas ahead of storms.”
Rookery Bay Research Reserve
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve stretches across 110,000 acres of pristine mangrove forest, uplands and protected waters. We are committed to preservation through research, education, and land protection.