CHNEP's 2020 Accomplishments

The Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership achieved numerous research, restoration, environmental education and outreach, and partner coordination and support accomplishments in 2020. Below are the highlights: 

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH

  • Completed the Yucca Pens Geo-technical and Surveying Project, to gather surface and groundwater data in support of restoring a more natural flow regime in the Yucca Pens Unit of the Cecil Webb Wildlife Management Area.

  • Funded a research project completed by Bonefish & Tarpon Trust for post-restoration monitoring of two experimental habitat restoration strategies to evaluate their effectiveness in restoring habitat for native juvenile sportfish species.

  • Completed a Habitat Restoration Needs Plan for the original CHNEP area, which created a comprehensive science-based plan of exactly where and how much of each different habitat should be preserved, conserved, reserved, restored, and managed for critical habitats for listed species, upland and wetland environmentally sensitive lands, as well as areas that are important to keep open to facilitate habitat migration.

  • Completed an Economic Valuation Study to assess the economic benefits derived from natural resource protection with regards to important industries in Florida such as tourism, agriculture, and real estate; in order to assist policymakers and the public understanding the economic return on investment related to investments in natural resource protection and restoration in the CHNEP area.

  • Continued technical and funding support of the Coastal Charlotte Harbor Monitoring Network (CCHMN), including convening the various sampling entities to hold an annual meeting. Additionally, CHNEP took the lead in updating the Sampling Standard Operating Procedures to ensure uniform and appropriate protocols are being used. 

  • Continued technical and funding support of the CHNEP Water Atlas as well as ensure all publicly available water quality data is being uploaded to one centralized public website. Additionally, CHNEP staff worked with stakeholders to make to make updates and additions, including updated the data graphs and trend analysis for exiting parameters and added new parameters on the current bay/estuary pages of the Atlas.

 

COMMUNICATION AND OUTREACH

  • Continued to add new webpages on CHNEP website, as well as updated committee and other webpages are being continually updated to upload new content and archive old content. These continued enhancements aimed to increase public awareness and involvement through website and social media have resulted in Facebook increasing another 186 followers (now at 1,393), over 2,360 unique visitors to the chnep.org website, 898 new subscribers to educational mailings (total 7,119), and 174 new volunteers signing up on-line (482 total).

  • Drafted content, designed, and procured printing and delivery of 35,000 2020 CHNEP Calendars with educational Harbor Happenings insert, as well as 9,500 Winter Harbor Happening magazines and 9,500 Summer Harbor Happenings magazines. [Note: Spring printing was CHNEP CCMP Brochures in both English and Spanish].

  • Planned and successfully executed the 20th CHNEP Nature Festival that was attended by 1,500 citizens, as well as included 40 plus exhibitors and a CHNEP Sustainable Fishing Clinic program that 104 children participated in – receiving 30 minutes of education each about water quality, marine debris, and microplastics as well as best fishing practices to protect water and wildlife.

  • Planned and facilitated monthly CHNEP Volunteer events were attracting approximately a dozen plus volunteers and students each month to participate in research and restoration activities. With onset of COVID, CHNEP staff switched to hosting virtual information events, such as horseshoe crab online training Additionally, CHNEP had booths at the Cape Coral Burrowing Owl Festival, Chalo Nitka Festival, Swamp Cabbage Festival, Annual Ding Darling Days, and other community events.

  • Planned and successfully facilitated a 2-day virtual CHNEP Watershed Summit scientific symposium via Zoom (also live streamed on CHNEP YouTube Channel), that featured more than 30 expert presenters and 200 participants per session (4 designed around the four action plans in the CCMP: water quality improvement, hydrological restoration, fish, wildlife and habitat protection, and public engagement).

  • Completed an interactive GIS storymap of our youth Adventures in the Watershed that meets grades 3-5 STEM requirements and is now available on the CHNEP website for the public to access and utilize.

  • Distributed updated full CHNEP Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan book to all program partners and Management Committee members, as well as every local, state and federal elected leader in the CHNEP area. Additionally, translated new CHNEP brochure including a summary of the new CCMP action plans, into Spanish and printed 4,500 copies for distribution.

PARTNERSHIP-BUILDING AND REGIONAL COORDINATION 

  • Continue to receive increased public donations from private individuals– up roughly 37% from the 2019 fiscal year ($8,277 collected in 2020).

  • Garnered increased local governmental contributions including from CHNEP partner, Charlotte County, who has agreed to increase their yearly contribution to the program by $10,000 annually.

  • Successfully solicited for the South Florida Water Management District, who had not contributed financially since 2011, to contribute $50,000 towards a CHNEP hydrological restoration project.

  • Wrote 11 letters of support for partner grant applications, as well as completed 24 grant progress reports during the fiscal year.

  • Re-formed and expanded CHNEP Citizens Advisory Committee to provide more equitable representation across the 10 counties the CHNEP serves, adding representatives from 3 counties to actively participate in it.

  • Now have elected officials from all ten counties in the CHNEP area – including the newly added expansion area of Glades and Hendry counties - actively participating in the CHNEP Policy Committee.

Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership, 326 W. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda, FL 33950-4417, chnep@chnep.org