Tampa Blue Carbon Project Partners
For Immediate Release: February 9, 2015
Contact: Steve Emmett-Mattox, (720)300-3139

Restore America's Estuaries brings science and business together for Tampa Bay

Partnership with Tampa Bay Watch, Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Environmental Science Associates, NOAA, U.S. EPA, U.S. FWS, and ScottsMiracle-Gro will demonstrate how Bay restoration efforts can best help mitigate climate change impacts

Tampa, FL – Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) is excited to launch a study to benefit Tampa Bay, which is supported through a diverse coalition of partners. The study will model how effective coastal management and restoration projects in the Tampa Bay area can increase removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, while also providing additional ecosystem benefits such as improved water quality, nursery habitat for key species, and coastal resiliency. This will help local organizations and agencies understand what actions are needed most to help the Bay mitigate the effects of climate change, while continuing to improve habitat health. The study will begin February 12 with a presentation and discussion jointly hosted by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program’s Technical Advisory Committee along with the Agency on Bay Management.

A recent White House announcement of the President’s Climate and Natural Resources Priority Agenda highlighted the Tampa Project as an example of public-private commitment to support resilient natural systems.

Tampa Bay is one of the few places in the U.S. to have all three critical coastal habitats – salt marsh, seagrasses and mangroves. These habitats are extremely effective at removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in the soil for long periods of time, referred to as “blue carbon”. Coastal habitats provide many important benefits including improved water quality, shoreline protection from storms, and vital habitat for many critical fish and shell-fish species.

“Blue carbon recognizes the key role that coastal habitats play in building up and storing stocks of carbon in the rich organic soils of wetlands, mangroves and sea grasses,” said Paul Cough, Director of the Oceans and Coastal Protection Division at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “EPA is committed to working cooperatively with partners in Tampa Bay and throughout the nation to foster opportunities to pilot and implement blue carbon projects that will benefit local communities’ adaptation and mitigation efforts.”

 “Estuaries like Tampa Bay are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, and now we know they also play a role in climate mitigation,” said Steve Emmett-Mattox, RAE’s Senior Director of Strategic Planning and Programs. “If we are going to protect them well into the future, we need a better understanding of how they work, and this collaborative effort brings the right expertise together in a unique way.”

The approach for this study was developed from an earlier study in the Snohomish estuary, Puget Sound, WA. The Tampa Bay study has an expanded scope to include adaptation to sea-level rise, thus improving long term management of the bay area.

“We have made tremendous strides to protect and restore Tampa Bay through stewardship and community awareness for the long term benefit of the Bay,” said Peter Clark, President of Tampa Bay Watch. “This study, through its diverse partnership, will help us continue to manage the Bay effectively so it can adapt to climate change and improve habitat health for generations to come.”

This coalition leverages local expertise with committed partners to improve management of the bay area while meeting national research objectives and includes the following study partners:

  • Environmental Science Associates
  • Tampa Bay Estuary Program
  • Tampa Bay Watch

“Over the past two decades, the Tampa Bay community has made great progress in improving the health of Tampa Bay’s waters,” said Holly Greening, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program. “We want to ensure that progress will not be lost as a result of climate change. This study will help us to chart a course forward that protects the work our public and private sector partners have collectively accomplished.”

In addition, a number of organizations recognize the importance of this study and have helped to fund it:

  • Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – Office of Habitat Conservation
  • The ScottsMiracle-Gro Company
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Coastal Program
  • U.S. EPA (through a grant provided to the Tampa Bay Estuary Program)

“Partnering on this study is consistent with the efforts we’ve made throughout Florida to protect the state’s water quality,” said Mike Shelton, ScottsMiracle-Gro’s Corporate Social Responsibility Manager. “We’re also excited that the study will have a positive impact on the water bodies beyond Tampa Bay, as estuaries across the nation work to protect water improvements made to date.”

The diverse partnership working on this model study expect to release the results when complete later this year at a special stakeholder workshop.


Restore America's Estuaries is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 1995 and leads an alliance of eleven community-based conservation organizations working to protect and restore the lands and waters essential for the richness and diversity of coastal life. For more information, visit www.estuaries.org.  

Tampa Bay Watch is an environmental nonprofit 501 (c)(3) stewardship program dedicated exclusively to the charitable and scientific purpose of protecting and restoring the marine and wetland environments of the Tampa Bay estuary encompassing over 400 square miles of open water and 2,300 square miles of highly- developed watershed. Tampa Bay Watch involves more than 10,000 youth and adult volunteers each year in hands on habitat restoration projects. For more information, visit www.tampabaywatch.org, or call 727-867-8166.

With more than $2.8 billion in worldwide sales, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, The Scotts Company LLC, is the world's largest marketer of branded consumer products for lawn and garden care.  

Environmental Science Associates (ESA) is a leading environmental science and planning firm specializing in environmental and community planning, ecosystem restoration design, technical studies and investigations, environmental impact assessment and documentation, and environmental compliance. Learn more about us at www.esassoc.com.

The Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund (TBERF) is a competitive grants program with the goal of funding projects which restore and protect Tampa Bay and its watershed. It is managed through a strategic partnership between the Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP) and Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE). The founding partners of TBERF are the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Restore America's Estuaries, Southwest Florida Water Management District, and The Mosaic Company Foundation.

 Tampa Bay is one of 28 estuaries in the National Estuary Program. The mission of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program is to build partnerships to restore and protect Tampa Bay through implementation of a scientifically sound, community-based management plan. The Tampa Bay Estuary Program was created by Congress in 1991 to assist the community in restoring and protecting Florida's largest open-water estuary. Learn more at www.tbep.org.