Keep Pinellas Beautiful engages community in Moccasin Lake Park cleanup
By Stephanie Lawler-Ellington, Deputy Director – Keep Pinellas Beautiful
Keep Pinellas Beautiful received a grant from Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) and partner CITGO to assist in revitalizing Lake Moccasin Nature Park located in the heart of Pinellas County. Moccasin Lake and its surrounding greenspace were originally established in the 1940s to offset the installation of the U.S. 19 overpass in Clearwater, FL.
Over the years, the space has transformed from a stormwater pond to a 51-acre nature preserve with oak-covered boardwalks, trails, and creeks. Over this time, the park modeled many sustainable practices which reinforced its commitment to conservation. While this park is viewed by many as an oasis in the urban jungle of Clearwater, FL, it is not without its challenges. Invasive vegetation threatens the habitat, stormwater runoff has produced issues for the health of the waterway, and funding restrictions have limited attention to shell trails and gardens. With the support of this grant, Keep Pinellas Beautiful hosted opportunities to educate and engage the park visitors and community members to improve the overall health of the Moccasin Lake ecosystem.
KPB has been able to host quarterly beautification and restoration projects which resulted in:
- Totaling 393 volunteer hours
- removal of 1,894.5 lbs. of invasive species
- These events have saved the city a total of $11,216.22
- A total of 10 educational signs were designed to be installed throughout the park to educate the community about native trees and their value in Spring 2023
KPB was also able to plant native flora which in turn will minimize long-term impacts of invasive species on the park’s ecosystem and provide a healthy habitat for keystone species such as the gopher tortoise.
Community participation is essential in creating long-term and sustainable change at this park and surrounding areas. A major goal of this grant was to be a consistent presence in this growing urban area by conducting bimonthly educational outreach presentations at the park. Thanks to this grant, KPB had resources to empower the Clearwater community to take action in protecting this park.
Another way KPB staff and volunteers engaged the neighboring communities was by having conversations and providing information to individuals and business owners about our hotline program to report illegal dumping and litter issues. This built strong relationships and partnerships while allowing us to support individuals and groups to remove litter and invasive species which in turn provides safe and environmentally friendly habitats for all to live and enjoy.
To ensure the program’s success moving forward, KPB is continuing to apply for more grants and sponsorships to support Lake Moccasin Nature Park Revitalization Initiative. For more information about upcoming events to get involved please visit, https://www.kpbcares.org/upcoming-events.
Keep Pinellas Beautiful would like to acknowledge our deepest gratitude and appreciation to Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) and partner CITGO for the opportunity to improve the health of Moccasin Lake and educate the surrounding community.