FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 7, 2005
CONTACT: Cragin Mosteller, (850) 245-2112

Florida Seeks Public Input on Gulf Priorities

--DEP launches web site for e-review and feedback as part of Gulf of Mexico Alliance--

TALLAHASSEE – As part of an ongoing commitment to coastal protection, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) launched a web site inviting Florida residents to review the priorities drafted by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance as part of an action plan for restoration. The web-based forum at www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org is available for residents to review and provide feedback on the recent ocean research, education and management recommendations developed by the state-federal Gulf Alliance.

“Our marine resources are the foundation for Florida’s quality of life and ocean-based economy,” said DEP Secretary Colleen M. Castille. “Florida is committed to working with our government partners and the residents of all five Gulf states to establish a comprehensive framework for the long-term protection of the Gulf of Mexico.”

Top environmental officials from the White House, seven cabinet agencies and five neighboring states gathered at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve last month to firm up a plan to strengthen protection for the Gulf of Mexico. Hosted by Florida, the five Gulf states and the federal government began outlining a shared ecosystem-based approach for improving the health of the more than 3.7 billion acres of Gulf water through coordinated coastal research, ocean education and water quality safeguards.

Coming on the heels of a call to action extended by Florida Governor Jeb Bush to the five Gulf Governors last spring, the state-federal alliance outlined five priorities as a starting point for restoring, protecting and improving the waters of the Gulf of Mexico:

  • Improving and protecting water quality;
  • Restoring coastal wetlands and estuarine ecosystems;
  • Reducing pollution and nutrient loading;
  • Identifying and characterizing Gulf habitats to support coastal management; and
  • Expanding environmental education to improve stewardship.

The Alliance priorities detailed in five white papers are available for review on-line. The web site includes links to each white paper along with an e-comment form to submit feedback on water quality, coastal wetlands, nutrient loading, Gulf habitats and environmental education. The multi-agency partnership is inviting input from residents, businesses, scientists and interest groups for the next month for inclusion in a formal action plan. Each bordering state is also hosting a round of stakeholder meetings to solicit public input on how best to preserve the Gulf’s health.

For more information on the Gulf of Mexico Alliance or to submit comments, visit www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org

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