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Dec. 2017-Jan.2018                                                                                                                                                    www.tbep.org
TBEP Transitions
Ed Sherwood named new TBEP Director as Holly Greening and Nanette O'Hara retire 

Ed Sherwood was selected by TBEP's Policy Board as the program's next Executive Director beginning in February. He succeeds Holly Greening, who is retiring after 26 years with the Program, the last 10 as Director. Longtime Outreach Coordinator Nanette O'Hara retired in November.

"Holly Greening's leadership has been instrumental in bringing a variety of local governments and organizations together to bring about positive change for Tampa Bay. Her efforts have led to our Bay, our estuary being in the best shape it has been in decades," said Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice, Chair of TBEP's Policy  Board. " We are confident that Ed Sherwood will continue her science-based approach to the decisions that have to be made for the next decade. We know that he is dedicated to continuing this important work."
Ed at Robinson Preserve with daughter Kaylie, left, fiance Michelle, and son Charlie
Ed joined TBEP as the Program Scientist in February 2008. In that position, he was responsible for the technical assessment and analysis of projects to protect, restore, and sustain the bay's ecosystems. His experience included grant proposal preparation, estuarine monitoring design, implementation and interpretation, database quality control, environmental impacts review, and statistical and geo-statistical analysis. Ed also coordinated our Technical Advisory Committee and Nitrogen Management Consortium.

2017 is proving to be a "watershed" year for Ed, who is getting remarried in late December. He and Michelle will share their Riverview home with Ed's two children, Charlie and Kaylie, and dog Molly.  

As only the third Executive Director since TBEP's creation in 1991, Ed is committed to maintaining the strong regional partnership that has made the Program a model for science-based community restoration. 

"I look forward to working closely with our partners to continue the Program's fine work. The immediate challenge for our region will be sustaining the great progress we've achieved in the Bay's restoration as a direct result of the efforts of Holly and others, " he said. "Continuing to build momentum for Bay restoration activities and supporting a community of informed citizens that live, work and play in Tampa Bay will be my initial focus."    

Prior to joining TBEP, Ed was a marine research associate with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and project manager with the Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County. He has worked on numerous research projects and resource management initiatives within the Tampa Bay watershed focused on protecting and improving estuarine water quality, fisheries, and coastal habitats.

Ed holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology from the University of West Florida, and a Master of Science degree in Marine Fisheries and Ecology from the University of Florida.

As Ed assumes the helm, Holly Greening is embarking on new adventures, including fishing, sailing, paddling, cycling, birding, traveling around the world and volunteering for a community garden in Manatee County, where she and husband Gerold live. As one of the most respected coastal program managers in the nation, Holly already is in demand as an advisor to similar organizations who hope to learn from TBEP's successes.
Holly is looking forward to doing more of this starting in February!

During  Holly's tenure, the Program met one of its central goals -- recovering 38,000 acres of seagrass habitat in Tampa Bay. In fact, the bay harbored more than 41,000 acres of seagrass as of early 2017.

Holly also was a chief architect of a public-private grant partnership, the Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund, that has supported more than $3.7 million in habitat restoration, water quality improvement projects and cutting-edge research since 2013.

Holly also has worked closely with EPA and other Gulf National Estuary Programs to secure funds for regional restoration through the federal RESTORE Act (enacted after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill). Additionally, Holly led development of a Strategic Plan to keep TBEP on sound financial footing. Her watch also included a complete update to TBEP's Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP), along with regulatory recognition of TBEP's nitrogen management strategy as compliant with both federal and state water quality standards for Tampa Bay .

Nanette O'Hara retired from TBEP in November after 20 years as Public Outreach Coordinator. Among the best-known education programs she implemented were the Pooches for the Planet pet waste and Be Floridian fertilizer use campaigns. She also served as staff coordinator for the CCMP revision. A resident of Tampa, Nanette is launching her own communications business, O'Hara Communications, and also hopes to spend a little more time fishing, paddling, cycling and gardening.


CCMP Public Summary Online 

A 12-page Public Summary of Charting the Course: The Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for Tampa Bay can now be viewed and downloaded  on the TBEP website. 
The document condenses key elements of the complete CCMP, which sets bay research, restoration and education priorities through the year 2027. The Public Summary features a graphic timeline showing key milestones in bay restoration, brief snapshots of major goals and actions, and compact descriptions of how the Plan will be implemented and financed.

The full 158-page CCMP presents detailed strategies for implementing 39 actions that address historical challenges - such as reducing nutrient pollution and restoring key habitats - and emerging issues such as the impacts of sea level rise and microplastics. Also included are TBEP's Strategic Plan,  State of the Bay reports, Research and Monitoring Priorities and a Climate Change Vulnerability Analysis. The CCMP was adopted in February a fter extensive review and feedback from resource managers, agency representatives, scientists, bay users and citizens.

  CC algae bloom
Blooms of Pyrodinium algae have been observed every summer in Old Tampa Bay since the early 2000s, with severe blooms such as this 2009 occurrence that imparted a tomato-red tinge to bay waters north of the Howard Frankland Bridge. Photo by Dorian Aerial Photographics.

Research To Examine Whether Shellfish Can Reduce Algal Blooms

TBEP-sponsored research will test whether oysters, clams and mussels -- if present in sufficient numbers -- could reduce the severity or frequency of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Tampa Bay. 

The $50,000 project, led by scientists with FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, will involve laboratory experiments to assess the potential for shellfish to consume the troublesome Pyrodinium bahamense dinoflagellate, a single-celled algae. Pyrodinium forms large resting mats of cysts on the bottom of Old Tampa Bay; these cysts lay dormant until certain environmental conditions are present. In Tampa Bay, Pyrodinium cysts can out compete other alga to form "blooms" in summer months, at the same time nutrient-laden runoff from heavy rains is entering the bay.
A magnified view of Pyrodinium bahamense. FWC Photo

The Pyrodinium algae produces a toxin, although at lower levels than in the Indian River Lagoon, where people have gotten sick from eating contaminated puffer fish. Toxins from many HABs, including Pyrodinium, also can cause respiratory impairments. Pyrodinium has been documented in Tampa Bay for 16 straight summers, sometimes causing widespread areas of discolored water and fish kills.

Researchers theorize that native filter-feeding oysters, clams and scallops could alleviate algae blooms in two possible ways -- either by outcompeting, or starving, the algae of nutrients, or by directly consuming the microscopic dinoflagellates. The planned lab tests will expose Pyrodinium cysts to various shellfish species for varying lengths of time.

Promising results could eventually lead to creation or enhancement of shellfish nurseries in the bay as a potential management tool for HABs, reducing risk to humans from eating fish or shellfish contaminated by toxins while providing an important source of food and habitat for numerous fish and waterbirds.

Understanding the environmental influences that cause Pyrodinium cells to germinate and expand continues to be a TBEP research priority. Work completed in early 2017 through a Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund grant examined factors that contribute to "seeding" of bottom areas by Pyrodinium.  Read the report.

Terrace Community Middle School's outdoor classroom received our Golden Mangrove Award as last year's most outstanding Bay Mini-Grant. Students and teachers at this charter school in Thonotosassa learned about ecology and biodiversity while restoring a modified wetland on their campus as an outdoor learning center. They created a Blog about their experience and installed "critter cams" to monitor wildlife using the site (including a fox, deer and owls!). Members of TBEP's Community Advisory Committee visit grant recipients annually and select the Golden Mangrove Award winner.

Bay Mini-Grants Awarded

TBEP has awarded nearly $80,000 to 20 community groups for education, pollution prevention and restoration projects in the bay watershed in the coming year. Grant funds come from sales of the Tampa Bay Estuary license plate:
What was funded:

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch
Students in AMI Elementary School's Young Ambassadors program will deliver contracts and paper straws to local beach businesses, restaurants and convenience stores. Business owners will pledge to stop using plastic straws by the end of summer 2018.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County 
Middle school students, many economically disadvantaged, will take part in a 7-week environmental education program that includes outdoor field trips and hands-on learning activities focusing on the bay's diverse bird species.

Buchanan Middle School
Middle school  students will help design and build a series of hydroponic gardening systems for the entire school. More than 300 students will participate in engineering, constructing, painting and monitoring the garden systems. The systems will become a teaching tool for students to learn efficient use of water and incorporate STEM into curriculums. 

Canterbury School of Florida 
Grant funds will expand an existing marsh grass nursery and create an outdoor classroom where teachers can promote Tampa Bay awareness and education. Along with students from Canterbury School, students from First Presbyterian, Shore Acres school and Academy Prep will visit the outdoor classroom for interactive lessons. 

City of Oldsmar
Funds will purchase materials and plants for a Florida-Friendly demonstration garden and interpretive signs at M obbly Bayou Preserve Environmental Education Center . Mobbly Preserve "Adopt-A-Park" volunteers will work under UF/IFAS direction to create the garden, which will divert stormwater runoff from the Environmental Education Center and adjacent parking lot before entering Tampa Bay. 

Friends of the Tampa Bay National Wildlife Refuges
Grant funds will pay for bus trips to bring more than 300 students to Weedon Island and Fort DeSoto parks to provide outdoor learning opportunities. Students from local Title 1 schools will participate in STEM activities including a shoreline clean-up. 

FWC/Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
FWRI staff will use satellite imagery and circulation models of Tampa Bay to create a marine debris hot spot map. T The map can be used to guide marine debris prevention and clean-up efforts.

Keep Pinellas Beautiful
This comprehensive program will involve youth in removing invasive plants and installing native plant gardens, using a curriculum focused on invasive species supplemented by monthly classroom presentations and quarterly service projects.

Manatee School for the Arts 
This project will engage and educate marine science students through hands-on curriculum in the classroom and through field trips. The students will also make "Trash Art", an art display using trash found during clean-ups.

Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources 
Participants visiting Emerson Point Preserve will take guided snorkeling trips with preserve staff to learn about underwater life in the estuary, and how to  protect the habitats they are experiencing. 

Nature's Academy 
Coastal Connections for Florida 5th Graders Coastal Connections will bring this program, for free, to 32 schools including 14 Title 1 schools. Students will participate as citizen scientists using dip nets and sensors with data uploaded to the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) database. Students will conduct sampling in Manatee County. 

Palmetto Youth Center
Funds will be used to hire professional guides for environmental education field trips and eco-tours to provide hands-on education and visit science-based centers. Many of the more than 100 underserved members attend Title 1 schools and do not have opportunities to attend trips and be part of environmental learning using hands-on channels. 

Planet Love Life, Inc.
This small non-profit located in Wimauma will create 1,000 personal monofilament collection tubes for anglers using repurposed tennis canisters. The tubes will have a strap and float system to prevent accidental loss and marine pollution. Monofilament line will be sorted and sent for recycling.

SCUBAnauts International
Approximately 45 teenagers will monitor a seagrass mitigation site to evaluate whether the area is still providing the cover and function that it had when completed and approved in 2011. TBEP will receive a summary of the data and a presentation on the project by the young SCUBAnauts.

Shorecrest Preparatory School
Students will continue to remove invasive plants, a project begun by a previous grant, and plant native plants along the school shoreline. Funds will purchase additional tools, plants and irrigation materials to ensure plant survival. Nearly 1,000 students will participate in creating this native coastal zone at the school. 

St. Petersburg Saturday Morning Market 
"Bay Before Bags." Just as the name suggests, this grant aims to cut back on the single-use plastic bags at the Market. This initiative will work with local organizations and universities to create an awareness campaign at the Market and provide reuseable instead of plastic bags. 

Surfrider Foundation Suncoast 
This awareness campaign aims to educate the public on the hazards of single-use plastics, using printed materials distributed at numerous tabling events. Grant funds will also support clean-ups at local beaches, recycled paper bags to business in St. Pete's Grand Central District, and a partnership with USF St. Pete to provide data collection and analysis of effectiveness of program.

Terrace Community Middle School
Seventh grade science students, teachers and parents will continue improving the modified wetland area on the school's campus. Funds will go towards wetland plants. Students and teachers will partner with the Florida Suncoast Native Plant Society to ensure correct plants and placement in the wetland area.

The Florida Aquarium
Teachers of grades 5-8 within the Tampa Bay watershed will participate in two estuary-based educator workshops. These "Adaptions of the Estuary" sessions will explore how organisms adapt to ever-changing estuary dynamics such as salinity, temperatures, pollution and nutrient loadings. When complete, teachers will receive lesson plans, presentations and activities to practice in their classrooms. 

Great Explorations Children's Museum
Funds will pay for remodeling of the Explorer's Cove as an 'underwater' learning and play space. Four educational stations, Sea Species Wall, Don't Pollute, Mangrove Seed Pods, and a Book Nook featuring the Florida Water Story series are all part of the exhibit remodel. Each component will feature fish and wildlife conservation and habitat protection messages appropriate for children.


Grants annually provide up to  $5,000 for community-based restoration and education projects in the Tampa Bay watershed. Clubs,  neighborhood associations, business and trade organizations, community and environmental groups, and schools are eligible to apply. Applications are due in September of each year. Learn more

Jan and Bill Platt at TBEP's 20th anniversary picnic at Fort De Soto Park in 2011. Bill, a longtime attorney in Tampa, passed away last week. Bill and Jan were married for 55 years.
Remembering A Bay Champion
Jan Kaminis Platt (1936-2017)

Tampa Bay lost a true champion in November with the passing of Jan Platt. And we lost a good friend.

Jan was a chief architect of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, lobbying relentlessly and successfully for the bay's inclusion in EPA's National Estuary Program in 1991. She was an original and long-serving member of our Policy Board representing Hillsborough County, and a founder of the regional Agency on Bay Management, still attending meetings this year. A lifelong fishing fanatic, Jan's leading role in steering creation of the tax-funded Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program has resulted in the preservation of 61,000 acres of woods, waters and wetlands in the bay watershed, including key parcels in the Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve. The ELAPP program is named in her honor. 

In June 2015, we were pleased to present Jan with one of our inaugural Champion of the Bay Awards for her support and unwavering commitment to restoring Tampa Bay. She was thrilled with the bay's improving water quality and seagrass regrowth, but always reminded us that our job will never be finished. We will work to keep her legacy alive so that future generations can share the bounty and beauty of the bay that she loved. 

Planning for Climate Change
Modeling effort suggests strategic use of "living shorelines" to save critical habitats

A computer modeling tool developed in Virginia may help planners and land managers in Tampa Bay mitigate the effects of changing climate.

Scientists with FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) are adapting the computer model,  developed by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, for use in Tampa Bay. Paired with forecasts of sea level rise in locations around the bay, scientists hope to use the model to identify specific sites where "living shorelines" could be created to buffer rising waters and preserve important habitats. The recommendations could be utilized by planners, land managers, and elected officials to ensure that critical habitats like marshes, mangroves and sandy beaches can withstand or "migrate" landward in response to rising seas. 

Living Shorelines offer a softer, more natural alternative to traditional hard armoring using concrete seawalls. They  use native plants and materials such as oysters or rock to stabilize waterfronts, buffer wave action, filter pollutants and provide food and shelter for fish, shellfish and shorebirds.

                                                                               Illustration courtesy of NOAA Office of Habitat Conservation

Expanding the use of living shorelines is a specific goal of TBEP's newly updated Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP). See Action BH-6. TBEP staff are serving on an advisory committee for the FWRI modeling effort. Funding is provided by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. 

The project's coordinators are seeking feedback from area resource managers on the usefulness and application of the modeling tool. Contact Chris Boyd at boydc@troy.edu or Kathleen O'Keife at kathleen.okeife@myfwc.com.

Give A Day For The Bay: We're on a Roll!

Our hardy volunteers already have transplanted marsh grasses and trees at Perico Preserve, and whacked back invasive plants at Boyd Hill Nature Park. Still to come are workdays on January 20 at Brooker Creek Preserve, 
March 17 at Moccasin Lake Nature Park and April 21 at Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve. 

Wanna help restore the bay in a personal way? 


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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.