(L-R) Florida State Representative Halsey Beshears, U.S. Representative Gwen Graham,
Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson and Franklin County Commissioners Cheryl Sanders
U.S. Representative Gwen Graham took a trip yesterday out on Apalachicola Bay accompanied by Shannon Hartsfield, President of the Franklin County Seafood Workers Association to perform one of her workdays made famous by her father Bob Graham, former U.S. Senator and Governor of Florida.
After the trip harvesting oysters, which Congresswoman Graham called “hard work” she held a press conference at Lynn’s Quality Oysters in Eastpoint surrounded by members of the Franklin County State Legislative Delegation and local elected county and city officials to announce legislation designed to restore adequate freshwater flow to Apalachicola River and Bay.
The legislation spearheaded by Graham titled, ‘The Apalachicola Bay Restoration Act’ will require the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to consider freshwater flow downstream of Atlanta into Apalachicola Bay along with other congressional approved uses of the river.
“Apalachicola Bay represents the heart and soul of North Florida”, said Graham. “This isn’t just a fight over water; we’re fighting to save a way of life. This legislation is an important step to restoring freshwater flow and restoring our bay.”
“Apalachicola Bay has historically been one of the most productive bays in the country, but recently has suffered from a lack of freshwater flow, which hurts the bay’s ecology, oyster industry and local economy”.
Graham also said that Apalachicola Bay and the issues surrounding the bay should be viewed and elevated to a national concern similar to what occurred with the Florida Everglades.
The legislation is a bipartisan effort cosponsored by 21 members of the Florida delegation, including Representatives Vern Buchanan, Jeff Miller, David Jolly, Thomas Rooney, Carlos Curbelo, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Kathy Castor, Alan Grayson, Patrick Murphy, Lois Frankel, Ted Deutch, Frederica Wilson, Alcee Hastings, Mario Diaz Balart, IIeana Ros-Lehitnen, Corrine Brown, Ted Yoho, Dennis Ross, Ron DeSantis and Richard Nugent.
“Members of the Florida delegation from across the state are rallying to save the bay”, Graham said. “Working together with Republicans and Democrats to save this natural treasurer shows the North Florida Way is working”.
Florida State Senator Bill Montford along with State Representative Halsey Beshears, Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson, Ricky Banks, Vice-President of the Franklin County Seafood Workers Association and Dan Tonsmeire, with the Apalachicola Bay River Keeper all spoke during the press conference and expressed support toward the legislation.