Water quality monitoring plays a major role in the understanding of natural and human impacts on coastal waters. Researchers use water quality data to document short- and long-term changes within the water column in an effort to quantify the spatial and temporal variability and trends. Accordingly, it is essential to develop a proficient water quality monitoring program to recognize and prevent potential negative impacts to the aquatic preserve.
Seagrass beds are one of the most productive habitats found in the world. The rich biodiversity that make up seagrass habitats plays a critical ecological and environmental role to Florida’s coastal communities. Seagrasses improve water clarity by stabilizing bottom sediments and absorbing nutrients from the water column. They reduce coastal erosion by helping to diffuse wave energy during storm events. Economically, seagrass beds are of critical importance to Florida’s commercial and recreational fisheries.
St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve is an important part of the Springs Coast, which extends over a vast area of coastal resources and habitats. It is imperative that these areas be managed in the most effective, comprehensive manner. Having a baseline level of presence and distribution of habitats, composition and abundance of species that depend on those habitats (including salinity and temperature ranges), and updated maps to graphically represent these parameters and how they change over time are all essential tools needs to effectively manage the aquatic preserve.
St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve encourages sustainable use of natural resources while minimizing user impacts. The preserve provides many opportunities for both recreational and commercial users. Public support and interagency participation are imperative to protecting natural resources. Participation in resource management enables the public to understand the importance of protecting the resource while encouraging recreational and commercial use.
In the late 19th century, after 40 years of plume hunting, wading birds became a focal point for conservation. In the 1970s, extensive colonial nesting bird surveys were initiated along the North American Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Wading birds have a high aesthetic and recreational value to humans, and the birds' reproductive performance is a crucial aspect of their population dynamics. Anthropological interference has led to the decline of many bird species in southwest Florida, through both direct and indirect effects.
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.
The basic characteristics of CHAP’s water vary naturally in response to the daily, seasonal and long-term forces that make the estuarine habitat conditions among the most dynamic on earth. The waters also vary throughout CHAP dependent on the location relative to each of the three major rivers and the passes that open to the Gulf of Mexico. The estuaries are also sensitive to runoff and upland discharge that moves into the estuary through sheetflow, small tributaries and canal systems.
The Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves have been set aside to maintain essentially natural or existing conditions for future generations to enjoy. This mission has been under increased pressure with a growing coastal population, and demand for water dependent activities. Promoting and managing public use within our aquatic preserves that supports research, education and stewardship is essential to this mission. It is important to balance these activities in a compatible manner that protects natural, cultural and aesthetic resources of the aquatic preserves.
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.