President Obama has signed into law the first reauthorization of the National Estuary Program (NEP) since it expired in 2010, allowing the Environmental Protection Agency and the 28 individual NEPs to continue to support conservation and improvement at estuaries around the United States.
One of those NEPs is Sarasota Bay, prompting Sarasota GOP Congressman Vern Buchanan to praise the legislation, which reauthorizes the NEP through 2021.
“Sarasota Bay is a key contributor to the Suncoast’s economy,” Buchanan said. “In fact, researchers have found that 21,000 jobs depend 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.”
The legislation signed by Obama on Friday authorizes $132.5 million over five years to help states and local partnerships develop and implement conservation and management plans and address threats to estuaries.
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.