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President Obama on May 18

President Obama last Friday signed a bill that reauthorizes the National Estuary Program through 2021, allowing the Environmental Protection Agency and the Estuary Program to continue working to improve specially designated waters and habitats, including Sarasota Bay. The law "specifically authorizes $132.5 million over five years to help states and local partnerships develop and implement conservation and management plans and address threats to estuaries," according to a press release issued by Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, who voted in favor of the measure.

“Sarasota Bay is a key contributor to the Suncoast’s economy,” Buchanan said, according to the release. “In fact, researchers have found that 21,000 jobs depends on the bay. The bay provides crucial habitat for plants and wildlife including the iconic Florida manatee, the bald eagle, osprey, sea turtles, and bottlenose dolphins.”