RAE works to protect estuaries at a variety of levels, from advocating on Capitol Hill around issues that impact coastal areas nationwide to supporting on-the-ground restoration projects in local communities. One example of our local-level impact is the success of the Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund (TBERF), which RAE co-manages with the Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP). TBERF is a competitive grants program that supports projects which restore and protect Tampa Bay and its watershed. To date, TBERF has received more than $7.3 million to support 72 projects throughout the Tampa Bay region. Further, by requiring grant recipients to provide at least 1:1 matching funds, TBERF is able to leverage more than twice the amount of funding that it distributes. The great success of TBERF in helping to restore the Tampa Bay environment and engage the local community in the protection of its natural resources would not be possible without the generous support of its public- and private-sector sponsors.
This week, we had the great pleasure of announcing the 2020 recipients of TBERF grants. Seven proposals were awarded funding this year. The projects, including several prominently-located living shorelines and large-scale hydrologic restorations, are expected to continue and build upon the record of success established by previous TBERF-funded projects, in addition to bringing construction jobs and needed water quality improvements to the region. The projects TBERF will be supporting in 2020 are:
Lower Green Swamp Hydrologic Restoration Project ($171,496) Hillsborough County will restore hydrology for approximately 87-acres of forested freshwater wetlands in the LowerGreen Swamp Preserve. BMPs (including ditch blocks, wet crossings, and overflow sills) will be installed in the North Pasture. An additional 295-acres of non-forested freshwater wetlands will be restored in West Pasture and South Blackwater as a matching contribution.
Straz Center Living Shoreline Initiative ($100,000) The Straz Center for the Performing Arts will plan, design, and begin implementation of a multi-treatment living shoreline along 800 linear feet of river waterfront to increase habitat values, cleanse the water column, reduce wave energy, and demonstrate resilience options for the Hillsborough River.
Alafia River Watershed Mined Lands Restoration Plan ($100,000) Tampa Bay Water will develop a restoration plan for water quality and habitat improvements on historically mined lands in the Alafia River watershed. Project objectives will include assembling a historically mined lands working group; assessing hydrology, water quality and restoration potential; evaluating restoration techniques; and developing conceptual restoration plans for publicly-owned mined lands.
Lake Manatee Watershed Improvement Project ($175,000) Manatee County will conduct design and permitting work to improve agricultural runoff, restore ecosystem functions, and enhance natural wetland, stream and upland habitats in the North Fork of the Manatee River. The project will address loss and degradation of a first order stream to Lake Manatee watershed, ensuring the sustainability of an important water supply source.
SPC STEM Center Living Shoreline Project ($173,224) St. Petersburg College will restore the property at the STEM Center to a functional living shoreline. The project will include the removal of vegetative invasives and marine debris; the installation of oysters and native plants, and a boardwalk/dock system to preserve habitat and increase opportunity for student and community research and education.
Treasure Bay Living Shoreline and Water Quality Improvement Project ($173,224) The City of Treasure Island will construct a functional living shoreline along the waterfront at the Golf/Tennis Center. The project will include public education, removing sections of seawall, installing seawall enhancement features, planting marsh grass, and improving an existing pond (littoral shelves) to enhance water quality prior to entering Boca Ciega Bay.
Redington Beach Stormwater Quality Improvement Project ($28,875) The Town of Redington Beach will improve resilience and water quality by capturing and treating stormwater runoff before it enters Boca Ciega Bay. The Town will install 1,800 linear feet of infiltration trenches and four tide valves.