Myakka River Wild & Scenic Legislation

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The Myakka River Wild and Scenic Designation Needs Your Support

The Senate Community Affairs Committee is scheduled to vote on SB 2346 this Tuesday April 24th. Please contact the members of the Senate Community Affairs and ask them to support SB 2346 as amended. Go to  click on “Committees” then “Community Affairs” to link to the email addresses of all senate Community Affairs Members.

Residents and visitors across Florida know the Myakka River is one of the most scenic and pristine areas in southwest Florida. The importance of protecting the integrity of the Myakka River cannot be overstated. Sarasota, Charlotte and Manatee Counties have a substantial interest in protecting this natural treasure.  

Fortunately, two of our local legislatures also recognize the importance of protecting the Myakka. Senator Mike Bennett (District 21 Republican) and Representative Keith Fitzgerald (District 69 Democrat) have coordinated and introduced new legislation to further protect the Myakka.  Senate Bill 2346 and House Bill 1281 will amend existing protection language and extend the wild and scenic designation of the Myakka River into Manatee and Charlotte Counties. 

In 1985, the Legislature of Florida adopted the Myakka River Wild and Scenic Designation and Preservation Act, which designated a 34-mile segment of the Myakka River within Sarasota County as a "Florida wild and scenic" river. The water bodies of the Myakka River were granted the designation of Outstanding Florida Waters (OFW) in 1988. Both of these designations are intended to provide additional protection to special waters recognized for their ecological significance, by providing the highest degree of protection under the State of Florida permitting policies.  

Including the Manatee County portion to the state-designated Myakka Wild and Scenic River is important because most of the watershed of the Myakka is located in Manatee County. Including the Charlotte County portion of the Myakka River will help to protect the water quality of the Myakka as it flows into Charlotte Harbor. 

The quality of water in the Myakka River is closely connected to the quality of the water coming from headwater streams located in Manatee County. If there is poor water quality at the headwaters, it is likely that there will be poor water quality within the Myakka River.  The upper watershed, particularly Flatford Swamp and Tatum Sawgrass contribute to the overall water quality, flood moderation, and viability of fish and wildlife resources throughout the Myakka River and Charlotte Harbor estuary.

Animals included on the federal list of threatened and endangered species and known to occur as residents or migrants to the upper Myakka watershed are: peregrine falcon, Bachman's sparrow, southern bald eagle, Florida panther, and eastern indigo snake.

There are several ways to reduce the current threats to the Myakka River. A cumulative analysis of phosphate impacts prior to any new phosphate mining activities within the Myakka River basin needs to be done. The Charlotte and Manatee County comprehensive plans and land development codes should be changed to reduce the hard surfaces of development, preserve green space, and protect water quality.  The Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte County Commissioners should support legislation to further protect the Myakka River.