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Thad Cochran, Chairman
US Senate Committee on Appropriations
113 Dirksen Bldg. Washington, D.C. 20510
Patrick J. Leahy, Ranking Member
US Senate Committee on Appropriations
437 Russell Bldg. Washington, D.C. 20510

 

Dear Chairman Cochran and Ranking Member Leahy:

As you contemplate the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, we write to you in support of increased funding levels to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Department of the Interior to expedite the completion of congressionally authorized Everglades and South Florida ecosystem restoration projects and the rehabilitation of the Herbert Hoover Dike.

The Everglades is a national treasure, but manmade alterations, primarily by the USACE, have created significant environmental effects that must be remedied. Restoring the historic southerly flow of clean water from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay (Bay) is critical to ensure public safety, maintain proper salinity in the Bay and to reduce the necessity for, and the frequency of, releases to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers. In recent years, these releases to the east and west of Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers have resulted in catastrophic algal blooms and seagrass die-offs that have dramatically impacted not only the environment, but the sportfishing and boating industries in south Florida.

Read more: Open Letter to Chairman Cochran and Ranking Member Leahy

The announcement today of action to extend the Gulf of Mexico recreational red snapper season is a welcome boon to anglers who have been painted into a corner by a federal fisheries management system that does not understand us, and would often just rather ignore us.

On the plus side, anglers are right to be encouraged by the willingness of this Administration and the Department of Commerce to improve recreational access to a historically robust Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery. This alone is a tremendous achievement.

The recreational angling community should feel vindicated, and we should take heart that after years of being systematically sidelined by NOAA Fisheries, our efforts to encourage our elected officials in Congress to engage in this man-made management disaster are yielding results. We are being heard at the highest levels of our government, and that is a very good thing. As a result of our passion and our refusal to be cast aside, anglers will be allowed to venture into the Gulf of Mexico with their family and friends on weekends throughout this summer in pursuit of the most popular offshore fish in our waters. We owe our champions in Congress and the Secretary of Commerce our deepest thanks.

Read more: A break in the management storm for red snapper

Two STAR tagged redfish caught in north Florida – one registered angler takes a prize.


Orlando, FL – June 5, 2017 – CCA Florida, the state’s leading organization dedicated to marine fisheries conservation, education and advocacy, today shared details on the first winner in the nonprofit’s signature event - CCA Florida STAR, presented by Yamaha. While two of the event’s tagged redfish were caught, only one angler was registered to win, and will walk away with a $55k+ prize package from Maverick Boat Group and Yamaha Outboards.

Monticello resident Benjamin Gavins caught a 19” STAR tagged redfish (tag FL637) on June 1 near Lanark Village in Franklin County. A CCA Florida member since 2013, Gavins was shocked to see the tag on his catch, and immediately notified the organization, per event regulations. “Frankly, I was stunned when I saw the green tag on that beautiful little red,” stated Gavins. “This is my third year fishing the STAR event and it continues to be the most enjoyable fishing competition I have ever entered, and it’s all to support the conservation of our precious marine resources. I call that a win-win.” Of the event’s major prizes, Gavins chose the 2017 Pathfinder 2200 TRS bay boat.

Read more: CCA FLORIDA ANNOUNCES FIRST 2017 WINNER IN SIGNATURE STAR STATEWIDE EVENT

CCA Florida urges Gulf states to join Florida in the push for a longer federal season.

Orlando, FL – May 30, 2017 – The three-day 2017 Red Snapper season (June 1 – 3) has recreational anglers in Florida voicing concern, and state conservation and advocacy groups are joining the conversation. Florida’s leading organization dedicated to education and advocacy for marine fisheries conservation, Coastal Conservation Association Florida (CCA Florida), is commending the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for addressing the three-day season with the federal government, in an effort to extend the season for recreational anglers.

Read more: CONSERVATION AND ADVOCACY ORGANIZATIONS ADDRESS LIMITED RED SNAPPER STATE WATER SEASON

Mark your calendar and plan to join CCA Florida and the UCF Biology Department this summer for several habitat restoration project opportunities in Mosquito Lagoon!
 
Join us in assisting Dr. Linda Walters with the department’s ongoing habitat restoration program in the Lagoon.  Projects like these are leading to progressive improvements in water quality and are helping to protect and restore our state’s marine habitats for the future.  Be a part of great work!  Dates include:
 
June 1, 2, 4, 5, 12, 13, 15 + 16
July 6, 7, 8 + 9

Read more: Summer Habitat Restorations Opportunities

For the Love of Florida
 
Most Floridians understand the importance of coastal habitat restoration. But did you know what a difference these projects are making in our state?  And how joint efforts by various conservation groups and volunteers are protecting and restoring Florida’s marine habitat for the future?
 
Check out the latest in CCA Florida habitat restoration projects and the progress we’re making with partner conservation groups. Thanks to our friend C.A. Richardson of Flats Class for helping share our story!
 
Help us spread the word by sharing this video, or supporting the Building Conservation Trust, CCA’s national habitat funding program.  Not a CCA member? Join now to make a difference.

Three-day season in 2017 marks new low in federal management of popular fishery

Washington, D.C. – May 2, 2017 -- On the same day that NOAA Fisheries announced the shortest recreational red snapper season in history, Mark Ray, chairman of CCA Texas, was testifying before a Congressional hearing on dismal federal management of the fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. Ray told the House Subcommittee on Interior, Energy and the Environment, chaired by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), that red snapper is a man-made fishery management disaster.

Read more: CCA testifies before Congress on red snapper fiasco

CCA commends the Florida Senate in passing SB-10 that will, when implemented, help our coastal and southern estuaries, the Everglades and Florida Bay. With three weeks remaining in the Legislative Session, SB-10 is now in the hands of Speaker Corcoran and the Florida House.  

The newly passed Bill focuses on 31,000 acres of land the state already owns in the Everglades Agricultural Area. Generally referred to as Parcels A-1 and A-2, the Bill proposes using these parcels for greater storage of Lake Okeechobee discharges.  The Bill also directs the purchase or exchange of 3,700 acres of land between Parcel A-2 and Stormwater Treatment Area 5/6, and allows the purchase of additional properties for treatment before the water is discharged into the Everglades.

SB-10 has undergone dramatic revisions since it was filed, and the measure may undergo yet more revisions in the House.  More must be done to protect the Everglades and our estuaries, and we must complete the other restoration projects already underway or scheduled.  CCA Florida also encourages the Legislature to protect Amendment 1 monies and ensure they are put to their intended use. CCA Florida encourages you to raise your voice to Tallahassee by contacting your Representative in support of the measure before it comes to a vote.