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Coastal America Partnership

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 living resources."


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 of Jacksonville.

  • 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 techniques.

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 river.
compiled by
Joseph V. Siry
February 20, 2003

Clean up our coasts because these waters are too polluted.