Log in Subscribe

County receives $37,000 grant for Robinson Preserve


MANATEE COUNTY - A grant awarded Tuesday will let Manatee County do some work in the Robinson Preserve.

The $37,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will go to tree restoration at the preserve, the county said in a press release.

County officials say the new trees and other environmental enhancements will lead to improved water quality and greater bird watching opportunities.

The grant, part of NFWF's Coastal Counties Restoration Initiative, will be coupled with local matching funds to plant longleaf and Florida Slash pine along the eastern edge of an asphalt trail that meanders throughout the preserve. Max Dersch, the West County Supervisor with the Manatee County Natural Resources Department, said a new narrow band of trees, shrubs and grasses along the trail will create an "edge effect" that birds seem to love.

"Birds can fly down to the open area and back to the tree line without too much concern for predators," Dersch said. "It benefits bird life and it will augment the public's access to viewing wildlife."

The most important benefit, he noted is that bay water quality will be improved as storm water is filtered and nutrients are sequestered by the new vegetation.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's funding will come through the Pinellas County Environmental Fund and Middle District of Florida Conservation, which are regional distributors of the national grant.

During the 1930s, when the land that is now Robinson Preserve was heavily farmed for gladiolas and citrus crops, many of the native species were removed. The tree project is another step in Manatee County's goal to restore land to its original state.

The 487-acre preserve is between the Manatee River, Perico Bayou and Palma Sola Bay, west of 99th Street Northwest. In 2003, Robinson Farms donated $6.4 million worth of land, and Manatee County purchased the remainder for $10 million from the company. The deal voided prior plans for a huge residential development. The county won a $6 million grant from the Florida Communities Trust for the purchase, and the rest of the money was funded through property taxes set aside for environmentally sensitive land.

In 2006, numerous exotic invasive plants were removed, transforming the land from disturbed farmland to pristine coastal and wetland habitats. A new waterway system was created to help restore the tidal flow within the coastal habitats.

"This is another step in the restoration of this special place to the native habitat and pine flatwood forests that once predominated over all of northwest Bradenton," said county Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker.


No comments on this item

Only paid subscribers can comment
Please log in to comment by clicking here.