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A time for Englewood to take lead

Published By: Sun Herald

OUR POSITION: It is time for the community to assert more leadership on the protection of the Peace River and Myakka River watersheds.

The pristine waters of the Myakka River and Lemon Bay are the liquid heart of Englewood. Making sure heart is healthy is perhaps the most important long-term goal for our community. There is a unique opportunity for Englewood to lead right now.

Charlotte and Sarasota counties, in their own way, have not done everything within their power to keep our waters healthy. One of the holdups is that Sarasota and Charlotte have pushed for a study by the Army Corps of Engineers of the Peace River and Myakka River watersheds before taking corrective action.

The Army Corps has responded to the request for a study. No. Not now and likely not ever. The corps already monitors phosphate mining and believes the phosphate industry is following the law. An already-thinly stretched Army Corps is not going to do a study that is not required by law just because someone wants it.

Activism from Englewood and other area communities can help us move forward. The state of Florida sponsored a cumulative impact study of the Peace River Basin thanks to Charlotte County's passion and money. It is not an Army Corps study, but all parties agree it is independent and measures historical cumulative impacts.

Unfortunately, the study did not include the Myakka watershed because Sarasota sat on the sidelines. The governor appointed a blue-ribbon management committee to suggest policy and law changes to improve the Peace River Basin watershed, but the committee's mandate does not include the Myakka.

Our community needs to encourage Sarasota to work with Manatee and extend the Peace River study to the Myakka River and thereby extend the blue-ribbon Peace River management committee's policy and legal improvements to the Myakka River. The Charlotte commissioners need to be encouraged to actively participate in the blue ribbon committee to create policy and legal changes which will improve the sustainability of our crucial watersheds. The Army Corps said in its rejection letter that the proper place to change the law is with the cities, counties and state. They are all on this blue-ribbon committee.

We encourage our community to speak out now. Don't let this opportunity to protect Lemon Bay and the Myakka River pass us by.

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