Tampa Bay's valuable lesson
The following editorial appeared on March 22nd in the Tampa Tribune
The continuing revival of Tampa Bay holds a message for state lawmakers, who have been indifferent when not antagonistic to environmental concerns in recent years.
The remarkable comeback of the state’s largest estuary shows what can be accomplished when leaders at all levels recognize the value of the state’s natural gifts and work together to protect them.
There was a time when the Legislature could be counted on to lead such efforts. But recent sessions have demonstrated little of that foresight and, if anything, have been inclined to undermine local cleanup efforts — witness efforts to put a stop to the rainy season fertilizer bans that have proved effective or kill local wetlands rules.
Before sabotaging such efforts, lawmakers should consider the latest water quality report from the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, which monitors the bay’s welfare.
Water quality of segments of the bay is improving and meeting cleanup targets. In addition, many areas of the bay now have record water clarity.
Moreover, the bay has recovered 34,642 acres of seagrasses, only 3,358 acres shy of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program’s goal, one the bay may well exceed.
The most recent seagrass survey found the bay gained 1,745 acres from 2010-2012.
Such progress would have been impossible to imagine a few decades ago.