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Federal ‘Wild and Scenic’ status sought for Little Manatee River

The Little Manatee River is getting a lot of love from local officials who want to safeguard “the special character” of the free-flowing river and its immediate environment, prompting one congressman to push for federal aid.

Hillsborough County and Manatee County commissioners have unanimously approved respective resolutions that call for the designation of the Little Manatee River, including appropriate tributaries other than the South Fork, as a component or potential component of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White said he worked to get both resolutions passed after U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan said unanimous votes from both parties would prompt him to action. Upon learning of the resolutions adopted this summer, Buchanan’s staff sent a confirming response this month on behalf of the congressman from Sarasota.

Calling the Little Manatee River “a local treasure” and “an important recreational asset and vital wildlife habitat,” Buchanan said he looks “forward to working with Hillsborough and Manatee counties and other stakeholders to advance legislation to designate the Little Manatee River as part of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System.”

Already designated an Outstanding Florida Water, Little Manatee River would become one of only three Florida rivers to have federal wild and scenic status, along with Loxahatchee River (near the southeast coast) and Wekiva River (north of Orlando).