The Charlotte Harbor estuarine complex extends from Venice south to Bonita Springs, encompassing over 200,000 acres of diverse coastal and estuarine habitats. It is located within Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee Counties. North to south, there are six legislatively designated Florida Aquatic Preserves contained within the estuarine complex: Lemon Bay, Gasparilla Sound-Charlotte Harbor, Cape Haze, Pine Island Sound, Matlacha Passand Estero Bay.
The mission of the Aquatic Preserve Program is to protect and maintain the natural conditions of aquatic preserves for future generations. The primary activities are resource monitoring and management, and education and outreach. The Aquatic Preserve Program is overseen by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas (CAMA). The local Aquatic Preserve offices include the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves (CHAP), located in Punta Gorda, and the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve (EBAP), located in Fort Myers Beach.
The Charlotte Harbor Estuaries Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program (CHEVWQMN) is a region-wide, fixed station, monthly water quality monitoring program, and has been providing reliable water quality data for nearly 20 years. It was initiated to address the need of aquatic preserve resource managers to obtain baseline resource information and citizens' concerns about the health of local estuaries. Originally begun in 1994 in the Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve as Three Creek Watch under the Lemon Bay Conservancy, the program later expanded to the Gasparilla Sound-Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve in 1996 as the CHEVWQMN. Initially, the CHEVWQMN was overseen by the Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center (CHEC) to sample ten sites in northern Charlotte Harbor. In 1998 CHAP began managing the program, and expanded to include fifty sites, of which forty-six are still active, in the six aquatic preserves, as well as San Carlos Bay. [map]
The CHEVWQMN program involves close coordination with many local citizens who volunteer their time to perform the sampling each month. In addition, CHEC and the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP) offer support by providing local volunteer coordinators for the Lemon Bay and Pine Island Sound/Matlacha Pass areas, respectively. The program continues to be administered through the CHAP office. ...
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For more information about this program, please contact:
Volunteers are THE critical component to the success of the monitoring program. If you would like to learn more about your local estuaries; have questions or comments; or for information on how to become a volunteer, please contact:
Melynda (Mindy) Brown
Phone: (941) 575-5861
Documents and links associated with this program.