Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Friends of the GTM Reserve need your help today!

Post from Christine Rich, President, Friends of the GTM NERR

The Friends of the GTM NERR would like to urgently request your support in voicing input to the Federal Government as it finalizes the Fort Matanzas Management Plan. This is a national monument run by the U.S. Parks service.  We have come out in support of one of the stated options which does not include beach driving in certain areas adjacent to the Reserve.  We’d like to ask you to visit the Fort Matanzas Management Plan website and state your preferences, particularly endorsing Option B. For more information, please see the Friends of the GTM Reserve Official Statement below.

This is one way to help ensure that real science and the opinions of those with a shared stake in the preservation of pristine natural resources are used to influence the decision-making process.

Comments can be made online at the comments page of the National Park Service site.   

Friends of the GTM Reserve Official Statement to the NPS
The waters on the estuary side of the Matanzas Inlet are within the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (“Research Reserve”) boundaries. Research conducted by the Research Reserve staff has shown that the water quality of the Matanzas Inlet is some of the most pristine in Northeast Florida. The Friends agree that “Alternative B” creates the widest range of beneficial uses of the environment without degradation or risk of other undesirable consequences due to the continued prohibition against driving on the beach south of the Matanzas ramp. The preservation of the water quality is important to the Friends because it serves the interests of the Reserve’s research and also enhances the quality of water-based recreational activities, including, boating and fishing which take place in the estuary adjacent to the Monument. Additionally, “Alternative B”, will increase environmental interpretation which will create enhanced educational opportunities for visitors to understand the area’s natural environment.

The Friends do not support “Alternative C" as proposed in the Fort Matanzas National Monument Management Plan. The Friends do support the variety of existing beach experiences a visitor can have within the boundaries of the Research Reserve and in St. Johns County. There are 16.7 miles of beaches available for visitor access by motor vehicle in St. Johns County. The Friends do not support “Alternative C” and its potential to allow for beach driving at the Monument due to the adjacent estuary's high water quality, the unique and changing coastal ecosystem at the Matanzas Inlet and the potential for negative effects on wildlife and public safety.

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