Since the 1950s, southwest Florida has seen amazing growth and prosperity and has become a premier destination for sun-seeking tourists, investors and retirees. This has brought, and will continue to bring, a multitude of challenges to maintain a healthy environment for not only the local economy but also for area residents, and for the intrinsic value of southwest Florida habitats themselves. Fortunately, this importance was recognized decades ago by area citizens, and residents today are enjoying the result of their past efforts in the vast array of public lands located within the area. For example, the motivation for the creation of the aquatic preserves came from a growing awareness that coastal development was destroying the natural areas needed to maintain healthy fisheries, as well as an increasing realization that the old policy of selling submerged lands for development was in fact harming the state’s economic activities, and at a rather small profit to the state in terms of revenue. For some people, this was primarily an aesthetic and/or environmental issue. Others were concerned about detrimental effects on the commercial and recreational fishing industries, as well as other industries reliant on tourism - a major economic engine of the region.
With continued development pressures, it is important that CHAP staff stay informed about the activities in the watershed and involved in preserving and restoring the ecological integrity of the Charlotte Harbor watershed. There has been a shift toward an emphasis on environmentally-friendly building and development techniques, as well as an emphasis on the importance of project impact minimization. This focus on smart growth helps to assuage future cumulative impacts to the landscape. Endeavors to improve the water quality of the Charlotte Harbor estuaries have begun to concentrate more on nonpoint sources of pollution through homeowner education and local fertilizer ordinances. Additionally, in already developed portions of the watershed, efforts such as the replacement of septic tanks with sewer are geared toward reducing impacts on water quality. The combination of land preservation, smart growth principles and development retrofitting efforts is essential to sustaining the area’s healthy economy and quality of life for not only its current residents, but for future generations as well. Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves supports and encourages each of these efforts, as well as working to educate homeowners on how they can reduce their impacts to the local environment.
February 10, 2020 - 3:24pm
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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.