Florida Governor Signs Bill to Bolster Biscayne Bay

KEY BISCAYNE, FL (STL.News) Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 1177, which strengthens coordination efforts to protect Biscayne Bay, a critical ecological, recreational, and economic asset to Southeast Florida.
House Bill 1177 calls for the creation of a commission dedicated to Biscayne Bay which will be tasked with bringing federal, state, and regional stakeholders to the table to strengthen ongoing efforts to protect the bay.  The commission’s first order of business will be to review and consolidate existing programs and projects into a strategic plan for bay improvement.  This legislation and the accompanying $20 million in the Fiscal Year 2021-22 budget will build on the momentum generated by the $20 million investment announced by the Governor and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Cava in December of 2020.
“The Biscayne Bay Commission will spearhead both current and future efforts to protect and preserve the integrity of the bay as Florida’s population continues to grow,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.  “This legislation creates a coordinated effort to prioritize projects that will have the greatest impact.  From exploring the application of innovative technology to upgrading surrounding wastewater infrastructure, House Bill 1177 will build upon the water quality successes championed over the last two years.”
“The Biscayne Bay is such an important resource for South Florida and our entire state, and I’m honored to be a part of this action today that focuses our efforts on protecting and restoring the bay,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez.  “This action continues the momentum we’ve built since 2019 to preserve our most critical water resources in the Sunshine State for future generations to enjoy.”
Biscayne Bay is bordered by Florida’s most populous county, Miami-Dade.  The bay contains the largest passenger port in the world, is an international sailing destination, and plays a critical role in the health of Florida’s Coral Reef.  The bay and reef annually provide well over $20 billion in shoreline protection, fisheries habitat, and recreational opportunities.
“With the combined efforts of the new commission, local entities, and the state’s $20 million appropriation for funding projects specific to Biscayne Bay, the bay should rebound exponentially,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein.  “I applaud and thank Governor DeSantis for his continued commitment to Florida’s natural resources, allowing for sustainable use and protection for the benefit of future generations.”
While Biscayne Bay is protected in its entirety by either a national park or state aquatic preserve, it faces global, regional, and local stressors, including sea level rise, poor water quality, habitat loss, and human activity that conflicts with the bay’s well-being. This new legislation signed into law by Governor DeSantis enables direct action to address these issues in the bay.
The Biscayne Bay Commission will monitor the strategic plan and create an associated financial plan to ensure its priorities are funded, using agencies representing the commission.  Commission meetings will provide a forum for exchange and serve as a clearinghouse for public information on all plans, programs, and projects being conducted.
Read the full text of House Bill 1177 by clicking here.