Preserving our environment is an important responsibility we all share. In Congress and in the Seventh Congressional District, projects that make a difference in the quality of our life and the environment we enjoy receive my strong support.
Here is just a sampling:
Restoring Rose Bay, a natural estuary in Southeast Volusia County, is a project that I began more than a decade ago. Replacing the old bridge span over U.S. 1 grew into a major environmental restoration project.
Rather than just replacing the bridge, which was built decades ago by dumping fill into the estuary, the fill was removed and a longer span was constructed. The fill and old barriers in the waterway that blocked the natural flow has been removed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
By bringing local state regional’s and federal agencies together, Rose Bay is returning to being a state and national treasure.
When I-4 was constructed more than 50 years ago, not much consideration was given to protecting the environment in the construction of this national highway. Where the interstate crossed over the St. Johns River, land was filled, blocking the water flow, which limited the runoff protections previously in place. Over the years, vegetation and silt has clogged what is called the DeBary Bayou.
A plan for the restoration of the natural waterway is currently in development after working with local, state and federal agencies. The Florida Department of Transportation, the St. Johns Water Management District, Volusia County, local communities and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have all committed resources to bring this dying natural waterway back to life.
From Volusia, through Flagler Counties and continuing along the length of St. Johns County, beach erosion has been taking its toll.
Our beaches are an important natural asset, not only for their beauty but also for tourism and every Floridian’s enjoyment. When they are washing away, we have a serious problem.
Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have championed efforts to find the best solution to protecting our natural resources.
Water Resources National Legislation
In assuring the position of Republican Leader of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in 2007, I recognized the failure of Congress for 11 years to enact a national Water Resources Authorization bill.
With a bipartisan agreement, Congress for the first time in more than a decade passed the most comprehensive water resources legislation in the history of the program. This bill sets federal policy for all federal water projects, establishes funding levels and outlines priorities for all dams, levees, beach restoration and environmental projects under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
One of the best ways to enjoy Florida and its natural beauty is through its growing trails and nature walk system.
Over the years, my support for converting old railroad right-of-way for nature trails has helped the 7th Congressional District become the State’s leader both in number and miles of Rails to Trails pathways that both Floridians and visitors can enjoy. All of our counties in the District have programs to create or expand nature trails, and several other adjoining counties will soon be part of the trail system that extends from America’s oldest City, St. Augustine, to Florida’s Space Coast in Brevard County.
The Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTMNERR)
Assisting with the development of the Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve in South Ponte Vedra has created a state and national center to study, protect and better understand our estuary systems. The center provides research facilities and learning programs as well as marine exhibitions that are open to residents, academics, students and marine professionals.
After visiting the primitive and inadequate past facility, it was my pleasure to champion both federal support and focus on this major ecological and marine center, now an important environmental asset of the Seventh Congressional District.