Purpose: Created in 1991 by then
President Bush and reaffirmed in 1994 by President Clinton the Coastal
America partnership is a project oriented, federal interagency agreement
to actively engage resources and communities in promoting "a strong long-term
alliance for coastal stewardship." In his opening remarks when creating
the program President George H.W. Bush envisioned the program as a means
"to ensure that we use -- and use efficiently-- all of the tools that
are available to federal agencies, to state and local governments, and
to private citizens in order to solve coastal problems."
Key among the many ecological problems confounding coastal
conservation, three were targeted by this agreement including: habitat
loss and degradation, non point sources of pollution, and contaminated
sediments. The partners agree to encourage and facilitate direct local
and watershed action to "collaborate and cooperate" in restoring "coastal
Who: A Memorandum of Understanding [ MOU ] was signed
in 1992 among the Department of Defense, the Department of Agriculture,
the Department of Interior, the Department of Commerce (National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration) and the Environmental Protection Agency
to work cooperatively where talent, time and treasure permitted to "protect,
preserve and restore" the coastal ecosystems and living resources of the
nation. In 1994 the agreement was restated and extended to include the
Department of Transportation, and Department of Energy and the Department
of Urban and Housing Development.
What has been done: Among the projects facilitated
by the partnership through existing Federal "capabilities and authorities,"
have been educational, wetland restoration and dam removal activities.
- ° the seventy-five year old East Machias River
dam in Maine had become a safety hazard that obstructed fish migration.
In 1999, the town and the Department of Defense Innovative Readiness
Training joined forces to remove the dam and the electrical generating
facility which had outlived its usefulness. In addition to improving
town safety the project boasted, "the removal helped to reopen more
than 100 miles of habitat to migrating anadromous fish."
° Along the Petaluma River in north eastern San
Francisco Bay, dredged material from that river and Oakland Harbor
was used to restore 348 acres of Sonoma Baylands salt marsh. The project
supporters argued that "It improved coastal habitats. And it illustrated
that economic and ecological benefits often overlap."
- ° A degraded salt marsh and mangrove ecosystem was
restored in Tampa Bay, where the loss of 80% of the sea grass beds and
45% of the marine marshes had degraded water quality and fisheries.
The Cockroach Bay project brought together 15 organizations with over
2000 volunteers to restore over 135 acres of wetlands. Led by the Southwest
Florida Water Management District and Hillsborough County over 500 acres
were retrieved and eventually returned to a functioning ecosystem thereby
reducing non point sources of pollution and enhancing fish nurseries.
Coastal and Estuarine pollution
Active change is needed
What could be accomplished: Each of these examples
are pertinent the retrieval of the Ocklawaha River bed and the reinvigorating
of twenty springs now buried by the sediments and waters of Rodman Reservoir.
There is no better means of using existing Federal agency expertise and
resources to recreate the free flowing Ocklawaha River because of the proven
capabilities and ongoing commitment of the Coastal America partners in restoring
the ecological habitats and economic viability of our public lands.
The benefits from re-establishing the lower Ocklawaha River
watershed as part of the larger goal of restoring the ecological integrity
and economic viability of the St. Johns River are numerous. These direct
and indirect benefits can have an appreciable impact on the economies
of the middle St. Johns River basin by bringing needed expertise, revenues
and concentrating state and federal efforts to stabilize the long-term
economy of this region, This area has been long known for nature based
tourism. Since the 19th century --when Florida's largest spring, Silver
Springs, attracted Ulysses S. Grant, Harriet Beecher Stowe , and Sydney
Lanier, among many notables to visit the river by steamship or rail--
this region has been a treasure trove of under utilized assets and needlessly
degraded natural features. The area is within a reasonable driving distance
- Springs: Restore the flow of over twenty springs
along the Ocklawaha River and establish an additional canoe outpost
on Marion Blue Springs as either a federal or joint federal and state
use fee area, similar to Juniper and Alexander Springs that now exist
as revenue enhancement sources within the Ocala National Forest.
- Biological diversity: establish a variety of
submerged aquatic, wetland, bottom land hardwood swamp, prairies and
upland habitats where endangered species may return such as the indigo
snakes, gopher tortoises, sand hill cranes, and manatees, in addition
to habitats for bears and middle level predators.
- Fisheries expand existing fish hatchery in Welaka
or create an entirely new fishery education center in Putnam county
utilizing existing biological remediation and educational interpretation
Water quality improvement opportunities:
Extend existing use of forestry and agricultural Best Management
Practices (BMPs), expand the current program to Marion and Alachua Counties
Improvements in waste-water treatment facilities in Marion,
Putnam, Alachua, Flagler, and Clay Counties.
Address upstream pollution from runoff and aquifer contamination
by extending and improving existing wetland projects used throughout the
St. Johns Water Management District to moderate phosphorus and nitrogen
levels in existing tributaries.
Coordinate wetland mitigation, land purchases, Federal
Emergency Management Administration funds and state trust funds to enhance
the flexibility and capability of local and county governments to leverage
funds to buy flood plain to reduce storm water intrusion into surface
waters, decrease nutrient loads at critical times of the year and provide
fishing habitat for fingerlings and growing anadromous fish, benthic fisheries
and crustaceans so vital to local subsistence and sport fishers.
Encourage the State Department of Environmental Protection
through its Office of Greenways and Trails to facilitate public - private
partnerships in the educational and recreational arenas by employing existing
or state of the art bioremediation and biorestoration techniques in the
location of concessions and low impact tourist and fishing facilities
using the following models:
- Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary's, biological machine for
the treatment of waste water.
- The Disney Wilderness Preserve's facilities that incorporate
principles of ecological design with solar energy and reuse of materials
to minimize the impact of construction and maintenance.
Santa Ana River's Prado Dam tertiary waste water treatment
"mesocosms" that remove nutrient (nitrate levels [ 12 mg/l ]) from the