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January-February 2017                                                                                                                                        www.tbep.org
Final Adoption of Updated Bay Management Plan Set for February

The first major revision to  Charting The Course: The Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) for Tampa Bay, is slated for final adoption by TBEP's Management and Policy Boards in February. The Plan  contains 38 specific actions to address existing and emerging issues critical to bay health.

Charting the Course cover
The revised CCMP will guide regional research, restoration and education priorities for TBEP and its partner organizations for the next decade. 

A key goal of the Plan is to limit nitrogen pollution in the bay to promote clear water and recovery of underwater seagrasses. Specific water quality actions seek to reduce sewer discharges; encourage beneficial use of reclaimed water; decrease airborne emissions of nitrogen; and curb runoff from residential, commercial and agricultural lands.

Other major Action Plans address habitat restoration and protection; cleaning up "hot spots" of sediment contamination; reducing waterborne pathogens; conserving fish and wildlife; managing materials from dredging activities; preventing oil spills; and informing and involving citizens in bay improvement. 

Updating the CCMP every 10 years allows bay managers to assess progress in achieving goals and identify new issues that warrant attention. For example, topics addressed for the first time in this update include:
  • Reducing the frequency and duration of Harmful Algal Blooms
  • Reducing the occurrence of municipal sewer overflows
  • Understanding the impacts and sources of emerging contaminants such as microplastics and personal care products 
  • Ensuring adequate and appropriate public access to the bay 
  • Understanding and addressing effects of ocean acidification on bay water quality and wildlife
  • Incorporating CCMP goals in local government Comprehensive Land Use Plans
CCMP draft actions can be found at tbeptech.org. Submit final comments on any action to nanette@tbep.org by February 3.

In addition to the 38 issue-oriented actions, the final CCMP will summarize TBEP's research and monitoring priorities, funding strategy, and ecological indicators. A risk assessment of the effects of climate change on CCMP goals and actions is also being prepared.

The complete CCMP will be posted on the TBEP website in summer 2017. A compact Public Summary also will be prepared.


Bay Mini-Grants Awarded to 21 Community Groups
License Tag revenues support grant program

TBEP has awarded nearly $87,000 in grants to schools, neighborhoods, and community organizations throughout Tampa Bay for projects to be completed in 2017. The funds come from sales of the Tampa Bay Estuary specialty license tag. 
This year TBEP received a record 38 proposals totaling $169,000 in grant requests. The proposals were reviewed by members of our Community Advisory Committee; our Policy Board approved 21 for full or partial funding.
Activities span age groups and bay communities. Among them:
  • Certified NAUI divers will work with middle and high school students from SCUBAnauts International to assess the presence and persistence in bay waters of plastic bead that are a hallmark of the annual Gasparilla celebration in Tampa. 
  • Audubon's Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries will partner with the Tampa Bay History Center on a special exhibit highlighting the history of conservation in the bay area.
  • A pilot project will collect oyster shells from seafood restaurants on Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key and recycle them in oyster reef restoration projects at Manatee County nature preserves.
  • Residents around Crescent Lake in St. Petersburg will remove non-native plants and install native vegetation along the lake shoreline to improve ecological health and diversity.
  • Youth from Manatee County Boys and Girls Clubs will participate in field trips with activities such as kayaking and dip-netting to learn about fish and wildlife, and how they can contribute to conservation. 
  • Students from various K-12 schools in the bay watershed, including Mulrennan Middle School, Canterbury School, Gulf Beaches Elementary and Manatee School for the Arts, will conduct various restoration and research activities at their school campus or through field trips. Among the school projects funded are collection and analysis of marine debris and microplastics, maintenance of a salt marsh nursery, and restoration of native habitats on or around school properties.
Click here for a complete list of grant recipients.

Science Club students from Mulrennan Middle School in Valrico were invited by Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White to attend our November 2016 board meeting. They were presented a symbolic Bay Mini-Grant "check" for $2,035 to construct and maintain a salt marsh nursery at their school.

Pinellas Condo Community Receives Golden Mangrove Award 
for Ongoing Stormwater Pond Rehab

The Shores of Long Bayou, a condo community in St. Petersburg, recently received the Golden Mangrove Award as TBEP's outstanding Bay Mini-Grant project of 2015. The community was recognized for the ongoing restoration of 25 acres of lakes and stormwater ponds on its property, and for creating online learning modules to share their knowledge and lessons learned with other homeowner and condo associations. A volunteer team of 11 residents, led by the energetic, dedicated Ernie Franke, contributed more than $3,000 worth of labor to expand restoration efforts to 10 ponds. The group assists with removal of invasive plants, shoreline planting with native vegetation, and creation of floating islands for turtles and moorhens. They also provide chemical-free maintenance of six ponds, saving the HOA $500 a month. 
The Shores of Long Bayou's Ernie Franke with
TBEP Project Manager Misty Cladas

This is the second Golden Mangrove honor for The Shores of Long Bayou; they also received the award in 2012 when they launched their ambitious pond restoration plan.

The award is given annually by members of TBEP's Community Advisory Committee, who conduct site visits of Bay Mini-Grant projects and review final reports detailing how funds were spent. 

"Project Manager Ernie Franke's commitment and ability to grow the support of the project, the mission and spirit of the grants within the larger Shores of Long Bayou community is truly award-worthy," said CAC member Kristin Lehman, chair of the  Golden Mangrove Award committee. "The volunteers expressed a sense of ownership in the improvement of their ecosystem; true environmental stewardship program in action!" 

Learn More:


Research Seeks to Understand Ecological Value of Manmade Dredge Holes

TBEP is reviving a study of manmade "dredge holes" in the bay that will help bay managers determine whether some holes should be partly or completely filled to improve habitat, or are providing valuable services just as they are.

The new work builds on an initial study of 11 dredge holes conducted in 2003-2005. The new research is examining10 dredge holes not previous assessed, or that received minimal assessment. Among those being examined for the first time are holes near Shore Acres, Fort DeSoto, and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. One hole that was partially filled since the original study, at McKay Bay, also is being investigated.

            Both dredge holes and surrounding shallow flats are being sampled to compare marine life in each habitat.

TBEP is coordinating the study, with fisheries sampling conducted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC,) using seine nets, trawls, and even GoPro video to document bottom habitat and fish usage.  Sampling of benthic (bottom-dwelling) invertebrates that live in and around the holes, as well as water quality and sediment analysis, is provided by the Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County (EPC).

Early results from the work are intriguing. Several holes are being used by fish prized by recreational anglers in Tampa Bay -- including black drum, sheepshead, and snapper. Manatees have been documented resting in multiple holes. Seahorses, batfish, a diamondback terrapin and other rarely seen bay residents also have been found -- even a juvenile sea turtle on seagrass flatsadjacent to a hole.
The diamondback terrapin is a shy and elusive resident of brackish marshes and mangroves.

Go Pro video footage at the Sunshine Skyway dredge hole is " documenting the existence of some important hard bottom habitat and the use of that habitat by some of Tampa Bay's more important recreational species," said Tim McDonald, a fisheries research scientist with FWC. "These are, for the most part, sub-adult and adult-sized animals that we would not be capturing in seines and trawls - at least not at these sizes."

As part of the original dredge hole study, recreational anglers contributed catch data from the holes that provided useful insight into fisheries utilization. Anglers likely will be recruited to participate in the current research, said TBEP Ecologist Gary Raulerson.
The odd-looking batfish uses its wide "arms" and floppy fins to shuffle slowly across the bay bottom in search of worms, crabs and shrimp to eat.

The holes are remnants of decades-old dredging projects, where bay bottom was scooped out to create causeways, finger-fill canals or other development. Filling, or partially filing, some of the holes offers one potential beneficial use of material that still must be dredged from the bay every year to maintain shipping channels. In some cases, filled holes may offer better water quality and allow seagrasses to expand. Adding artificial reef materials to some holes also may be a useful option. 

However, scientists also may recommend leaving some holes just as they are, based on the habitat benefits they currently provide. 

Because each hole is unique, scientists will use a "decision matrix" to help them determine whether, and which, holes should be enhanced. Results and recommendations are expected in 2017, and public input will play an important part in the final determinations for each hole.

Funding for this project comes from the Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Hillsborough Pollution Recovery Trust Fund, and the Southwest Florida Water Management Fund. In-kind services are provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Love Tampa Bay Logo Do More, Learn More, Share The Love!
Show how Tampa Bay inspires your work, art or play by uploading  your own photos -- or sharing one of our digital postcards -- at lovetampabay.org .

#LoveTampaBay seeks to inspire each of us to DO MORE to protect the bay that sustains and unites our region, LEARN MORE about how we depend upon a healthy bay, and SHARE  THE LOVE with others by uploading photos showing how the bay matters to us.
cell phone upload examples
Digital postcards of special people and places in Tampa Bay, collected in themes of Home, Jobs, Art, Science and Community, are featured at lovetampabay.org.  The postcards can be shared on multiple social media platforms. 

Best of all, you can upload and share your own Tampa Bay postcards to the website, directly from your cellphone!

Follow LTB on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  

Volunteers clean the shores at Rock Ponds.
Pulling pepper, picking up trash and plucking seeds:
All in a morning's work for our volunteers!
Our bu sy "Gi ve A Day For The Bay" workday season continues, with upcoming workdays Lake Lisa in Pasco County (March 18) and at a location to be determined in Pinellas County (April 15). Email misty@tbep.org for info.

Last weekend, more than 50 volunteers - including Boy Scouts, students and military veterans from The Mission Continues service group -- removed invasive caesarweed, Brazilian pepper, and camphor trees from Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. 

On a chilly December morning, 25 hardy volunteers met at the Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve in south Hillsborough to pull Brazilian pepper and harvest native seeds from grasses and wildflowers. The seeds, from bushy broom sedge, lovegrass, goldenrod and coastal fingergrass, will be used to boost native plant populations at the Fred and Idah Schultz Preserve near Bullfrog Creek.
A volunteer collects goldenrod seeds at Cockroach Bay.
In November, 40 volunteers removed about 1 ton of trash and debris from shorelines and uplands at the Rock Ponds habitat restoration on the border of Hillsborough and Manatee counties. TBEP partnered with the Southwest Florida Water Management District on this workday.

"Give A Day For The Bay" is a series of half-day workdays at area parks and preserves. Volunteers perform a variety of tasks, including removing invasive plants, building oyster reefs, clearing trails and planting salt marsh grasses, wildflowers or other native species. All volunteers receive lunch served with a generous helping of gratitude for their help in restoring Tampa Bay.

View photos from our volunteer workdays on our Flicker photostream.  

Join our volunteer team by signing up here.

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About the Tampa Bay Estuary Program


The Tampa Bay Estuary Program is an intergovernmental partnership dedicated to restoring and protecting Tampa Bay, Florida's largest open-water estuary. TBEP is one of 28 "Estuaries of National Significance" designated by Congress.


Our Policy Board is comprised of representatives from Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco and Pinellas counties; the cities of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater; the Southwest Florida Water Management District; the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.