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TBEP releases 2015 Progress Report

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The Tampa Bay Estuary Program has released its 2015 Progress Report. Here is an excerpt from its introduction, by TBEP director Holly Greening:

Once again, we have good news about Tampa Bay to report to you. Overall water quality from 2011-2014 remains as good as it was in the 1950s, and we are within 3,350 acres of reaching our goal of 38,000 acres of seagrass baywide. Tampa Bay is widely viewed as a national model of regional cooperation to achieve environmental results. The progress we have made together is also reaping economic dividends, with a recent study by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council showing that 1 in every 5 jobs in the watershed depends on a healthy bay.

The regional consensus-building that has been our hallmark has grown in new and innovative directions over the last three years. We worked with local governments, our sister Florida Gulf estuary programs and the Southwest Florida Water Management District to prioritize restoration projects from the Big Bend to the Everglades that could be accomplished with fines from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf.

We also spearheaded the creation of a new grant program, the Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund, supported by key industry partners such as The Mosaic Company Foundation, along with the Southwest Florida Water Management District, our three county partners, the Florida Department of Transportation and several others. This grant fund is administered jointly by TBEP and the respected national non-profit, Restore America’s Estuaries.

In addition, we have re-energized our strong alliance with our key county and city partners, updating the legal agreement that has served as the underpinning of our program since it began, and adopting a strategic plan that will keep us on sound operation and financial footing through the year 2020."

The mission of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program is to build partnerships to restore and protect Tampa Bay through implementation of a scientifically sound, community-based management plan.