Citizens come together to discuss Clean Water

(Caloosa Belle/Danika J Hopper) K.C. Schulberg and Cat Chase present their Caluswaterkeeper documentary, “Troubled Waters” at the December 18 CHNEP CAC meeting.

The Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership (CHNEP) is a partnership of citizens, elected officials, and resource managers working together to protect and restore water and wildlife habitat in Central and Southwest Florida. The Partnership has recently invited both government officials and concerned citizens from Glades and Hendry counties to join and participate in their conservation efforts.

On December 18, CHNEP held a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting, where representatives from both Glades and Hendry counties were present. CHNEP formed the CAC as a way of bridging the gap between the Partnership and the public, as stated on their website, “by giving input regarding their concerns and ideas. The CAC is also an essential mechanism for sharing program information and resources with key community organizations and individuals that may not be directly involved with the Partnership.” During the meeting they conducted a review of the final CHNEP Communications Strategy, discussed the Conservation Grant program, and held a screening of the Calusa Waterkeeper documentary on Harmful Algae Blooms, Troubled Waters.

In the film, it is explained that while most people know to stay out of contaminated water, and to keep your pets away, there have been new findings that dangerous cyanobacteria and toxin readings have been detected by equipment well over 10 miles away. Much remains unknown about this new and serious health risk, and possibly not just to those who live on or near the water. The film points out that there is a dire need for more studies, and that the need is urgent. It is definitely an eye-opening film for anyone living or vacationing in Central and Southwest Florida.

CHNEP encourages all citizens who are concerned about conservation, or are interested in learning more about protecting our local watersheds and estuaries, to attend a CAC meeting. As described in their press release, “Citizens help by representing public concerns and transferring information back to their local communities, including distributing educational information to the public. CAC members will act as community leaders by funneling suggestions and ideas to the CHNEP as to how it can better serve the communities in their respective counties. CAC members also help the CHNEP locate projects, partners, and funding opportunities that implement the CCMP. Membership in the CAC is open to those who live or work in the CHNEP program area with a strong interest in furthering the objectives outlined in the CHNEP CCMP.”

The next CAC meeting is going to be held on April 29 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., at the Charlotte Community Foundation, 227 Sullivan St, Punta Gorda, FL 33950. The Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership, can be reached by phone by calling (941) 575-5090 and information about the organization and joining the CAC can also be found online by visiting www.chnep.org.

Danika can be reached at dhopper@newszap.com

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