Mangroves provide essential nursery habitat for many aquatic species and define our remaining natural shoreline. We have lost thousands of acres of mangroves in the Sarasota Bay Estuary as development has replaced saltwater wetlands with seawalls and turfgrass. A recent mapping project showed that more than 100 miles of seawalls and other hardened shorelines dominate the Sarasota Bay watershed. Recently, Sarasota County was forced to stop enforcing its Mangrove Protection regulations, which are preempted by State Law. Manatee County has no local mangrove regulations and relies on weakened state regulation.
We plan to take action in four ways. Suncoast Waterkeeper will:
- petition Sarasota and Manatee Counties to seek approval from the State to administer their own, stronger mangrove protections, while we
- engage the public with a citizen's monitoring and data collection program. Meanwhile, we will
- press the State to improve their enforcement efforts, which have been sidelined by the current administration. When the regulators don’t do their jobs enforcing the law, we will. Using the citizens suit provisions of the Clean Water Act, we will
- initiate litigation for dredge and fill violations that damage and destroy our mangroves.