What Guides Us
The Tampa Bay National Estuary Program (TBNEP) was established in 1991 as a local, state and federal partnership. In 1998, partners signed a formal Interlocal Agreement (original), pledging to achieve the goals of a newly completed Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for Tampa Bay and the nitrogen reduction goals established by the Tampa Bay Nitrogen Management Consortium. Through this binding agreement with key partners, our Program employs a collaborative approach to achieving the Program’s science-based goals. This agreement is updated every five years with the latest Amended and Restated Interlocal Agreement completed in 2021. Additionally every five years, the USEPA conducts a Program Evaluation and Implementation Review to ensure that significant progress towards accomplishing CCMP goals has been made.
Charting the Course: the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) for Tampa Bay was updated in 2017. This is the third revision of the original plan, which serves as a community blueprint for action over a 10-year planning horizon. The CCMP synthesizes years of scientific research into the bay’s most pressing problems and reflects broad-based input from citizens, stakeholders, and communities with a common interest in a healthy bay as the cornerstone of a prosperous economy.
The CCMP presents 39 actions to sustain progress in bay restoration through the year 2027. It addresses lingering historical challenges – such as reducing nutrient pollution and restoring key habitats – while also turning attention towards new or emerging concerns – such as impacts of climate change. Important goals and challenges for the 2017-2027 timeframe include:
- Maintaining at least 40,000 acres of seagrass (new 2020 HMPU Goal) by continuing to manage nitrogen loadings to the bay;
- Improving water quality in Old Tampa Bay through better management of freshwater inflow and removal of physical barriers to tidal circulation;
- Expanding our knowledge of the sources, distribution and ecological effects of new contaminants of concern such as personal care products, pharmaceuticals and microplastics;
- Reducing municipal sewer overflows and the occurrence of harmful algal blooms in the bay;
- Establishing restoration and protection targets for novel habitats – such as hard/live bottoms, coastal uplands and tidal tributaries; and,
- Ensuring that bay habitats can withstand and adapt to climate change.
Our 2021-2025 Strategic Plan clearly communicates shared programmatic priorities and intended outcomes, as well as provides a framework to guide decisions about how to align personnel and financial resources with the Program’s mission in ways that maximize our impact on Tampa Bay recovery. It focuses on the “how,” while the CCMP describes the “what.” Building upon the Program’s history of bay restoration and protection initiatives, we’ve identified five cornerstone strategies that define a general direction for how we will accomplish the work necessary to achieve our vision:
Be the primary source of trusted, unbiased, and actionable science for the Tampa Bay estuary, recognizing that open science principles will serve the Program’s core values.
Be a reliable, compelling voice for science and stewardship, recognizing that storytelling is a powerful, evidence-based technique to inspire behavior change and lasting awareness of the Tampa Bay estuary.
Recognize that Management Conference members are key to the long-term sustainability of the Program and are vital to promoting the health and wellbeing of the Tampa Bay estuary.
Be a catalyst for scientific inquiry and collective action, recognizing that grant-making is an effective approach to amplify social and environmental benefits to the Tampa Bay estuary.
Prioritize the development of internal systems and processes that ensure efficient, effective staff and Program management, recognizing that these controls are necessary for the Program to “stay on top.”