Dr Duane De Freese, Great New Leadership for the IRL National Estuary Program, SLR/IRL

Duane E. De Freese, Ph.D.(Photo Gulf Base article)

Duane E. De Freese, Ph.D. (Photo Gulf Base article.)
IRL near Vero 2013, (Photo JTL and EL)
IRL near Vero 2013, (Photo JTL and EL)

It is not yet official, as the contract must be negotiated, however, word on the river is that “it’s looking good.” Last Friday, Dr Duane E. De Freese was chosen from an outstanding group of candidates to lead us into what has to be a better Indian River Lagoon future.

Over the years, I have met Dr Duane at Harbor Branch IRL Symposiums and at the Marine Resources Council in Melbourne. I do not know him well, but he always struck me as someone “super cool,” a surfer….someone in the science and business of water… Someone with a smile, an opinion, very smart, politically savvy, not afraid to ask questions, charismatic, with leadership skills, and a person who genuinely cares about the Indian River Lagoon and its creatures.

I think he is a great choice, and I hope the contract is negotiated.

Links about Dr. D.:

Gulf Base: (https://www.gulfbase.org/person/view.php?uid=ddefreese)

Florida Today: (https://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/2015/08/07/indian-river-lagoon-council-considers-new-director/31306791/)

Hydro-Tech: (https://www.hydropro-tech.com/index.html)

The Indian River Lagoon is one of 28 estuaries nation wide that is in the National Estuary Program. The National Estuary Program was created by the 1987 through amendments  to the Clean Water Act.  Grants are provided to states where governors identify/identified nationally significant estuaries that are threatened by pollution, land development, or overuse. (Sound like home?!)

The National Estuary Program is designed to encourage local communities to take responsibility for managing their own estuaries. Each NEP is made up of representatives from federal, state and local government agencies responsible for managing the estuary’s resources, as well as members of the community — citizens, business leaders, educators, and researchers. These stakeholders work together to identify problems in the estuary, develop specific actions to address those problems, and create and implement a formal management plan to restore and protect the estuary. The Indian River Lagoon program was set up in 1987 and evolved to be mostly overseen by the St John’s River Water Management District. With the new structure that has been emerging  since 2013, the program will still be supported and affiliated with the Water Management Districts but more independent through leadership of the five counties and now cities along the lagoon that have chosen to participate. (SJRWMD) 

"Dr Duane"
“Dr Duane  De Freese ” our new leader for the IRL!

The bottom line is that especially after the crash and burn of the lagoon in 2013, the IRL NEP  is remaking itself,  and will be more able to lobby for funds. This is great, nonetheless, my message all along has been that there is a currency other than money, information. The sharing and caring of organizations and government officials along the lagoon to me is even more important than the money as people are usually divided by money rather than united, especially when competing for it…If the people aren’t bound by a “common good,” things fall apart.

Recent seagrass loss in the central and northern IRL. This came to a head the same time the S IRL was toxic from releases from Lake Okeechobee and area canals. A tipping point...
Recent seagrass loss in the central and northern IRL from the 2011-2013 super-bloom and brown tide. This came to a head the same time the SLR/SIRL was toxic due to discharges from Lake Okeechobee and area canals. A tipping point for the entire lagoon and the IRL NEP.

Thus new leadership must unify the “love of our lagoon” not just “turning dirt and getting projects.” I think Dr Duane De Freese can achieve this!

I am providing links below that give insight into the National Estuary Program (NEP) and a list of the 28 estuaries that are part of the program through the Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA).

Thank  you to my dear friend Ann Benedetti of the St Johns River Water Management District who alerted me to this good news, and a huge kudos to the Indian River Lagoon County Collaborative members who have led us to this horizon of hope: Martin County, Commissioner Ed Fielding (Chairman) St. Lucie County, Commissioner Chris Dzadovsky Indian River County, Commissioner Peter D. O’Bryan Brevard County, Commissioner Chuck Nelson; and Volusia County, Commissioner Joshua Wagner.

Most of all, congratulations Dr De Freeze! —“The world is our oyster!!!” 🙂

IRL near Vero/Sebastian 2013. (JTL and  EL)
IRL near Vero/Sebastian 2013. (JTL and EL)


Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program
Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program
Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program
Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program
Casco Bay Estuary Partnership
Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program
Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program
Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership
Partnership for the Delaware Estuary
Delaware Center for the Inland Bays
Galveston Bay Estuary Program
Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program
Long Island Sound Study
Maryland Coastal Bays Program
Massachusetts Bays Program
Mobile Bay National Estuary Program
Morro Bay National Estuary Program
Narragansett Bay Estuary Program
New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program
Peconic Estuary Program
Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership
Puget Sound Partnership
San Francisco Estuary Partnership
San Juan Bay Estuary Partnership
Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission
Sarasota Bay Estuary Program
Tampa Bay Estuary Program
Tillamook Estuaries Partnership

EPA NEPs:(https://water.epa.gov/type/oceb/nep/index.cfm) (https://www.epa.gov/owow/estuaries/nep_home.html)


IRL County Collaborative:(https://ap3server.martin.fl.us/web_docs/adm/web/aid_IRL_Collaboratives/aid_Documents_and_Correspondence/RJetton.pdf)

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