CHNEP: A partnership to protect the natural environment of southwest Florida.

In 1995, Charlotte Harbor was designated an “estuary of national significance,” creating the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP).

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Building partnerships

The CHNEP builds partnerships to develop integrated plans, education and outreach programs and management structures to achieve a sustainable balance between the economy, society and the environment.

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Advocate for the environment

The partnership works as an advocate for the estuarine system by building consensus that is based on sound science.

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Welcome to the CHNEP Management Conference

The Management Conference guides the work of the CHNEP. Each committee serves a specialized role in supporting the program goals and objectives. These meetings are open to the public. Two or more members of the Everglades West and Caloosahatchee Basin Working Groups, Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council and the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves Management Plan Advisory Committee may be in attendance and may discuss matters that could come before the respective body.

CHNEP Director Interviews: Learn more.

The Policy Committee establishes general policies and goals for the Program and executes ultimate authority in program administration.

Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016 agenda packet (The meeting date changed from Aug. 11); Morgan Park CCP; Compendium of Research for Ralph Montgomery

The annual evaluation of the CHNEP Director is a requirement of the EPA grant. Please complete the evaluation (Word file, PDF file) of CHNEP Director Lisa B. Beever and return to Maran Hilgendorf at by Close of Business on August 5 (or Beginning of Business on August 8). She will forward the evaluations to Policy Committee Chairman Jon Iglehart for compilation.


Morgan Park Request to Review Design by Aug. 19: proposal; worksheet

Mangrove Heart Attack Site Investigation Request to Review by Aug. 30; chapters from report on field investigation; worksheet

The Plan

In 1995, then Governor Lawton Chiles nominated Charlotte Harbor as an “estuary of national significance.” As a result of this nomination, Charlotte Harbor was accepted into the National Estuary Program, becoming one of 28 other watersheds in the United States so designated. The CHNEP held its kickoff ceremony in September 1996 and began the process of writing a regional Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. Local problems were identified, goals were established, information was collected and special projects were funded. The 20-year Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) identifies the region’s common priority environmental issues and the actions needed to solve them. The CCMP was accepted in 2001, marking the beginning of action to protect and restore the estuary and its watershed. It was updated in 2008 and again in 2013.

We acknowledge and appreciate our partners

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2016 Events

This free workshop is an opportunity for those who work with and are concerned about environmental education to network and learn more about solutions to issues facing the natural environment of southwest Florida.


While it’s true that some people are simply born interpreters, it’s also true that almost anyone can learn enough about interpretive techniques to improve the way they communicate with others. Professional-level certification is a way to document that you possess skills and knowledge that allow you to perform effectively in the interpretive profession.


This free workshop is an opportunity for those who work with and are concerned about conservation lands to network and learn more about solutions to issues facing these lands in southwest Florida. This is the fifth annual conservation lands workshop.


Residents and visitors learn about the natural environment of southwest Florida at this free annual event. Many individuals, organizations and businesses, are dedicated to making this festival exciting and informative. Visit YouTube (CHNEP 1995 channel) to see short videos of the festivals held since 2011.


Water Atlas, Special Places, Talks and Citizens Academy

Charlotte Harbor Water Atlas is a web-based tool that provides comprehensive and current water quality, hydrologic and ecologic data, information about local conservation efforts, volunteer and recreational opportunities, and a library of scientific and educational materials on water resource issues. Visit Charlotte Harbor Water Atlas>>

From the Lake Wales Ridge to the Gulf of Mexico and throughout the watersheds of the Myakka, Peace and tidal Caloosahatchee rivers, there are many amazing natural features and diverse habitats to behold. Experience them yourself by visiting any of the 500+ locations that provide public access to natural environments or help educate visitors. Visit CHNEP Special Places >>

Presentations given at CHNEP events provide opportunities to solve a problem and enhance capabilities to protect the natural environment of southwest Florida. Most are available as PDF files on this website. Since 2012, many have also been saved as videos by combining the PDF of the presentation and the voice of the speaker. These videos help fulfill our plan to protect the environment and have become the CHNEP equivalent to TED Talks, a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Visit CHNEP1995 on YouTube>>

To be released July 2016: CHNEP Citizens Academy. The CHNEP is developing an online multimedia Citizens Academy to help people learn more about southwest Florida’s amazing natural environment. This will be a free e-learning website that will, among other things, include videos of experts to either help explain difficult issues or to encourage people to continue learning and doing more. The Academy is anticipated to be self-paced and available on the learner’s schedule. The first phase will include information on some of the basics of why the natural environment of southwest Florida is so different from what is found elsewhere.

The CCMP is the product of collaboration on a scale that is hard to comprehend. The result of all these entities working together is a successful continuing improvement of conditions in Florida’s unique estuary, Charlotte Harbor. This is good for tourism, business and the flora and fauna that sustain our economy.

Don McCormick, SWFRPC delegate to the CHNEP Policy Committee