On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., introduced a bill classifying the Little Manatee River as a national “scenic” river.
“Designating the river as scenic would add Little Manatee River to the National Park Service’s Wild and Scenic River System, whose primary goal is to conserve free-flowing rivers across the United States,” the congressman’s office noted. “The Loxahatchee River and the Wekiva River are the only rivers in Florida currently recognized under the federal program. Little Manatee River, one of the most pristine blackwater rivers in the state, begins in southeastern Hillsborough County and flows downstream into Tampa Bay and through Little Manatee River State Park.”
Buchanan said adding the Little Manatee River on the list of national scenic rivers would ensure it is protected from development.
“Protecting our precious natural resources should always be a top priority,” Buchanan said. “Our region is blessed with many natural treasures including Sarasota Bay, Emerson Point Preserve and Myakka River State Park. Designating the Little Manatee River will ensure that it is kept in its current pristine condition for generations to come.”
“The Little Manatee Wild and Scenic River Act would formally designate the approximately 51-mile long segment of the river, beginning at its source in southeastern Hillsborough County flowing downstream to the point at which the river enters Tampa Bay, as a scenic river,” the congressman’s office noted. “Once formally added to the National Park Service’s Wild and Scenic River System, the National Park Service would collaborate with local government officials in Florida to develop a management plan for the Little Manatee River. The management plan must include how the existing natural environment will be preserved including allowing for continued public use. The plan is designed to achieve the ‘goal of protecting and enhancing the values that caused it to be designated.’”
Buchanan’s bill was sent to the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday. So far, there is no companion measure in the U.S. Senate and no cosponsors in the House.
State Rep. Margaret Good, D-Sarasota, who defeated the congressman’s son to win a seat in the state House, is challenging Buchanan in one of the more closely watched congressional races in Florida.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.