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August-September  2016                                                                                                                                        www.tbep.org
C ongress Reauthorizes National Estuary Program

President Obama signed into law the first reauthorization of the National Estuary Program (NEP) since it expired in 2010, supporting the community-based conservation efforts of Tampa Bay and the 27 other estuaries that are part of the NEP family. The new law authorizes spending up to $26.5 million per year nationwide for the next five years.
This is good news for TBEP and our sister Florida programs in Sarasota Bay, Charlotte Harbor and the Indian River Lagoon. Many thanks to House Co-sponsors Kathy Castor and David Jolly and to Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio for their continued strong support of TBEP.
The NEP was first established in 1987 to protect and restore estuarine habitats threatened by pollution and overdevelopment.  The new law authorizes the NEP at $26.5 million per year from Fiscal Years 2017 through 2021.   
"This is an important step because it reinforces the Congressional commitment to support this program, for at least the next five years," said Holly Greening.

Bay Mini-Grant Deadline is September 1

This year's deadline to apply for a Bay Mini-Grant is
September 1.

Learn more about the Bay Mini-Grants and apply online at 

Funding for the Bay Mini-Grants comes from sales of the Tampa Bay Estuary license plate, the only specialty tag in Florida that solely benefits our local environment.
Additional Grants Awarded for Bay Restoration, Research 

Four bay restoration or research projects will receive more than $338,000 from the final allocation of Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund (TBERF) grants this year. TBERF is managed jointly by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program and Restore America's Estuaries (RAE).

The projects are:

Increased Water Quality for Pinellas County Permitted Stormwater Facilities/Eagle Lake Park ($150,000)
Pinellas County will design and construct significant stormwater improvements at an 8-acre natural pond within a public park in the Allen's Creek watershed. The pond redesign will remove an estimated 273 pounds of nitrogen pounds of nitrogen per year, while serving as an innovative demonstration of stormwater Best Management Practices for the public.  

MacDill AFB Saltern Habitat Restoration Project ($93,775)
The Ecosphere Restoration Institute will eliminate remnant mosquito control ditches and mounds that bisected historic high salt marshes (salterns) on the military base, restoring more natural tidal flows to promote recovery of this rare wetland habitat in the bay watershed.

Sea whip and sponges in Tampa Bay.
Photo by Walt Jaap.
Fish Communities Associated with Hard Bottom Habitats in Tampa Bay ($80,441)
A detailed  survey of fish communities associated with natural and artificial hard bottom habitats  (such as limestone outcroppings, fossilized coral and artificial reefs) will be conducted by FWC's Fish & Wildlife Research Institute. The surveys will employ video and mapping.

Microplastics in Tampa Bay ($14,122)
Eckerd College professor David Hastings and students will assess the abundance and distribution of microplastic particles in bay waters and surface sediments monthly for nine months. The effluent of three wastewater treatment facilities also will be sampled and measured.

TBERF leverages local public and private funds with funds obtained through national philanthropic gifts.  Funding comes from the Southwest Florida Water Management District; the Florida Department of Transportation; Hillsborough County; The Mosaic Company Foundation; Pinellas County; US Fish and Wildlife Service, Tampa Electric Company and the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission.
Because TBERF grants require a 1:1 match, the grants awarded will result in more than $676,000 in benefits to the bay.

I naugural Florida Birding and Nature Festival Coming in October

We are proud to be a sponsor of the Florida Birding and Nature Festival, coming to south Hillsborough County October 13-16. The 3-day festival features a variety of workshops, presentations and small-group field trips to some o f the best wildlife-viewing sites in West Central Florida. Festival activities will be based at Hillsborough Community College's South Shore Campus in Ruskin.

The Festival coincides with peak migration in Central Florida, when 180 bird species can be found in our region. This year also marks the 1 00th Anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act that protects birds native to North Ame rica.

Workshops cover identification, nature  photography techniques, conservation initiatives, and talks on birds, butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles and mammals. Field trips explore prime birding, wildflower and wildlife viewing locations throughout the bay watershed. Most field trips cost $20, with a few boat trips in the $40-$45 range.

Nature products, art, binoculars, bird boxes, and unique products for wildlife lovers will be available for purchase.

More info about the festival is at http://www.floridabirdingandnaturefestival.org/ 

Get an "early bird" discount if you register before September 16!
Updates Continue to Tampa Bay Management Plan: 
Join The Conversation!
We are continuing to update our Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for Tampa Ba y, called " Charting The Course ." Final drafts of actions addressing Bay Habitats, Fish and Wildlife, Wastewater, Spill Prevention, Public Health, Invasive Species and Dredging are posted at tbeptech.org. Comments on any of the draft actions may be sent to nanette@tbep.org.
New Action Plans are being developed for review quarterly. The final document, slated for adoption in early 2017, will guide bay restoration, research and education efforts for the coming decade.
Your input is important to ensure we make meaningful and measurable progress in improving Tampa Bay. We look forward to hearing from you!  

Eats for the Estuary
St. Pete Restaurant Donates $1 from Sales of Chef's Creation to TBEP

Thanks to The Lure restaurant in downtown St. Petersburg  for their recent donation of $407 from sales of their Godfather flatbread. 

The Lure's owners have designated local charitable organizations to receive a portion of the sales of their specialty flatbreads. TBEP receives $1 from the sale of every order of The Godfather, which features spiced shrimp and marinated Portobello mushrooms on a pesto fondue, topped with cheese.

The Godfather is named in memory of local culinary legend Tom  Pritchard, chef at Salt Rock Grill, Island Way Grill and many other area restaurants.
The Lure is located at 661 Central Avenue in St. Pete. Thanks to Chef Tom Golden and owners Richard Alday and Michael Stewart for their generosity!   

Get Ready to "Give A Day For The Bay" 
O ur annual volunteer workday season will start again in September, with a series of  half-day workdays at parks and preserves spanning the watershed. Sign up with misty@tbep.org to receive more information about these Saturday work parties.

September 24, 2016
C elebrating National Estuaries Week

Salt Marsh Planting at Robinson Preserve, Manatee County                       
Invasive Plant Removal at Moccasin Lake Park, Clearwater
November 12,  2016
Trash Cleanup at Rock Ponds Restoration, Hillsborough County                                 
December 10, 2016
Invasive Plant Removal at Cockroach Bay, Hillsborough County             
January 14, 2017
Invasive Plant Removal at Boyd Hill Nature Park, St. Petersburg.
March 18, 2017
Invasive Plant Removal at Lake Lisa Park, Port Richey
April 15, 2017
Trash Cleanup at Location TBD in Pinellas County                                                      


New Boating Guide Available

Boaters and paddlers may now pick up copies of the newest, localized guide to bay-friendly water recreation at bait and tackle shops and fishing piers in Manatee County .

The Lower Tampa Bay Boater's Guide highlights waters from Port Manatee to Bradenton, including portions of the Manatee River east to I-75. The guide lists boat ramps, canoe launches, artificial reefs, preserves, and bird sanctuaries where shore and wading birds nest.

Interesting info about key fish and wildlife species found in lower Tampa Bay are featured, along with bird protection tips for anglers.

The guide was produced by Audubon Florida, with a Bay Mini-Grant from TBEP and additional partner support.

In addition to distribution in Manatee County, the guide can be viewed and downloaded on the TBEP website.

Printed guides also are available by contacting nanette@tbep.org ; limit 3 guides per person.

Coming Soon: #LoveTampaBay
Love Tampa Bay Logo TBEP is launching a new bay education campaign in October -- with your help!

#Love Tampa Bay is a multimedia website featuring digital postcards of special people and places in Tampa Bay, collected in themes of Home, Jobs, Art, Science and Community. The postcards can be shared on multiple social media platforms. We'll also want you to upload and share your own "bay postcard"  via the website!

TBEP Staff On The Go

The  TBEP staff was pleased to host Director Ben Scaggs and staff from  EPA's Gulf of Mexico Program in June. We provided brief "snapshot" talks about our activities and coordinated tours of habitat restoration projects at Robinson Preserve, Fort De Soto Park and St. Pete's innovative bio-solids treatment and recycling facility.  The "sharing day" was a great opportunity for us to brag about the Tampa Bay community's support for a clean bay!

TBEP Director  Holly Greening also shared Tampa Bay's restoration story as the keynote speaker at the Baffin Bay Symposium, hosted by the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation in Corpus Christi, Texas. 

Holly also gave an extensive overview of TBEP activities to EPA Region 4 staffers in July. While there, she presented "Champion of the Bay" proclamations to three longtime EPA veterans, recognizing their support of our efforts.

Holly wioth EPA Champions of the Bay
From left to right in the photo are Rhonda Evans, Felicia Burks, Holly and Jim Giattina. Rhonda and Jim are retiring this year and we hope their plans include some visits to Tampa Bay!

Rhonda's proclamation notes her 25 years of involvement with TBEP, including service on our original Management Conference and as our first National Estuary Program coordinator with EPA. Rhonda's continued guidance on Wetland Grants and Quality Assurance Project Plans is vital to restoration of our coastal habitats.

Felicia's proclamation highlights her 20 years of work with TBEP. As our current NEP coordinator, Felicia Burks keeps us well informed about grant and partnership opportunities, and helps us navigate EPA processes, all with unflagging energy and good humor. 

Jim has been a strong supporter for more than 15 years, including his leadership on the Gulf of Mexico Program and as Director of the Water Protection Division for EPA Region 4. Jim's proclamation notes his willingness to think "outside the box" to allow and encourage our public/private Nitrogen Management Consortium to reduce nitrogen pollution in the bay.

Thank you to these Champions of the Bay for helping us help the bay!

TBEP Ecologist  Gary Raulerson attended and presented a poster at the international  Mangrove and Macrobenthos Meeting in St. Augustine in July. Gary's poster highlighted how restoring Tampa Bay habitats will help address and respond to climate change.  While there, Gary spent some time in his old stomping grounds at the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve, and found one of the northernmost red mangroves on the U.S. Atlantic coast!

Outreach Coordinator Nanette O'Hara presented results of the Be Floridian fertilizer education campaign at the Florida Stormwater Association summer conference in Sanibel in June.   

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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.