The Tampa Bay Estuary Program recently awarded $104,463 to 20 community groups for projects that directly involve citizens in restoring and improving Tampa Bay.
This year's Bay Mini-Grant program attracted 29 applicants. Members of the Estuary Program's Community Advisory Committee evaluated the grant proposals, recommending 20 for full or partial funding. Grants were eligible for funding of $500 to $5,000. This year, special $10,000 awards for in-the-ground habitat restoration projects also were available, thanks to a matching grant from the Tampa Bay Environmental Fund.
Funds for the Mini-Grant program come from sales of the Tampa Bay Estuary license plate - also known as the "Tarpon Tag."
The 2012-2013 recipients, by county, are:
Around the Bend Nature Tours, LLC
LID Field Trips: Teaching New Pathways for Stormwater $4,850.00
Manatee County students in grades 6-12 will be introduced to Low Impact Development (LID) stormwater management techniques. Schools will be provided a CD that includes the background information on LID, the water cycle, watershed and field trip sites. Students will visit a new LID site, go on a native plant hike, perform water quality testing and participate in an invasive plant removal event.
Manatee School for the Arts
Biology Education Program: Exploring field trips and labs $5,000.00
Students will learn about estuaries through field trips, plankton sampling, stocking and maintaining classroom aquariums, and participation in community involvement projects such as salt marsh restoration and coastal clean-ups.
Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch
Flippers and Feathers Education Booklet $4,500.00
This volunteer stewardship group will create an informational booklet on turtles and shorebirds that call Manatee County home, emphasizing ways in which residents and visitors can protect these species. The booklets will be distributed to Manatee County schools, hotels, restaurants, businesses and rental agencies.
Audubon of Florida
Terra Ceia Bay, Lower Tampa Bay Boater Guide $5,000.00
This grant will pay for design and printing of a localized boating and angling guide to Terra Ceia Bay and Lower Tampa Bay. The guide will highlight important natural habitats as well as slow speed zones, bird nesting areas and other key resources and regulations.
East Lake Park Homeowners
Watershed Education and Wetlands Treatment Project $4,998.87
This neighborhood volunteer effort will involve both students and adults in watershed education, through distribution of educational flyers, installation of storm drain markers and pet waste stations, and removal of invasive plants and replanting with native plants. The East Lake neighborhood is located in Tampa.
Ecosphere Restoration Institute
Ulele Springs Restoration $10,000.00
This special habitat restoration project will re-create fisheries and manatee habitat at a natural freshwater spring located near the Hillsborough River in Tampa's urban core. This spring, now known as Ulele Spring, was Tampa's first source of drinking water. The project will recruit students and adults to plant native upland plants around the spring to stabilize the shoreline.
Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful
Live It, Love It, Preserve It! $5,000.00
Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful will create educational presentations on popular environmental topics such as litter prevention, how individuals can improve the bay, the importance of watersheds, and marine debris. These presentations will be presented to appropriate grade level students in Hillsborough County.
Lowry Park Zoo
Aliens of the Bay $5,000.00
Tampa's popular zoo will create a 200-gallon invasive marine species exhibit housing aquatic invaders such as lionfish, green mussels and Mayan cichlids. The aquarium and accompanying exhibit will inform zoo guests about the importance of disposing of unwanted pets properly and rinsing boats and trailers after use to avoid spreading invasive "hitchhikers."
Dowdell Middle Magnet School
Camping by the Bay $3,302.96
The school will take 40 students camping on four different trips to the Hillsborough River State Park Youth Camp. Students will survey plant and animal habitats and learn how ecosystems interact with each other and how humans impact them.
Community Stepping Stones
Beautiful Building Blocks: Food Web $4,915.00
Community Stepping Stones blends art with science to foster environmental awareness. This project will work with 20 at-risk students to create a museum-quality art exhibit that highlights the intricate details of phytoplankton and diatoms and their importance to the marine food web. Much of the exhibit will be made using recycled or repurposed materials. The exhibit will be displayed at HCC's Ybor Campus in Tampa.
Sierra Club Inner City Outings
Equipment to Enhance Inner City Students $5,000.00
The Sierra Club Inner City Outings group will bring at-risk, inner-city youth to Crystal Springs Preserve to learn about habitats, ecosystems and food webs. Children will collect and analyze water quality samples and participate in the World Water Monitoring Challenge.
Clearwater Audubon Society
Least Tern Rafts $3,474.68
This project will finance creation of a floating wooden raft to be installed at Honeymoon Island State Park. The raft will provide alternative nesting habitat for Least Terns adjacent to natural sandy beaches where they have recently tried to nest, but were unsuccessful due to human disturbances. Least Terns are currently listed as a threatened species in Florida.
Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources
Fort DeSoto Park - North Beach Habitat Restoration $10,000.00
This special habitat restoration project will re-create 75 feet of shoreline along Tampa Bay at North Beach which was destroyed during Tropical Storm Debby in June of 2012. Invasive plants and trees will be removed and volunteers will plant sea oats to help prevent further erosion and stabilize the shoreline.
Friends of Boyd Hill Nature Preserve
Herpetofaunal Survey: Using biological data to guide habitat restoration efforts $4,632.60
This survey in the St. Petersburg-owned nature preserve will bring together volunteers, environmental groups, and local government agencies to install and monitor drift-fencing to assess populations of two species of special concern: the gopher tortoise and the eastern indigo snake. Survey results will be incorporated into site restoration plans to guide ongoing habitat restoration efforts at Boyd Hill.
Pinellas County Department of Environment and Infrastructure
Watershed Management Section Lealman Water Quality Education Initiative $4,898.90
The County will partner with the Lealman Asian Neighborhood Family Center (LANFC) to host two clean-up events. Educational materials translated into Vietnamese will be available at the LANFC to emphasize the importance of disposing of litter and garbage properly to prevent pollution of nearby Joe's Creek.
The Pier Aquarium
Monitoring Madeira: Synergism of Science to Foster Tampa Bay $3,000.00
Students at Madeira Beach Fundamental Middle School will participate in a program to monitor water quality at a local waterway for Enterococci, a bacteria identified as a human pathogen, to determine bacterial levels and how human interactions affect water quality.
Florida Turtle Conservation Trust
Terrapin-Safe Blue Crabs $4,938.31
This project seeks to create a demand for commercially available blue crabs caught in crab pots using bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) that allow diamondback terrapins - a shy estuarine turtle found in Tampa Bay -- to escape unharmed. Included in this project is development of a website and educational materials informing crabbers, retailers and others about the importance of using bycatch reduction devices to keep terrapins out of crab pots to reduce mortality.
Riviera Bay Civic Association
Operation Healthy Water $4,202.00
This neighborhood association, located directly on Riviera Bay, will hold two clean-up events and pass out materials to inform local residents about ways to improve the water quality in their area. Residents will also help to remove invasive plants and trees and mark storm drains.
Tampa Bay Watch, Inc.
Elnor Island Oyster Reef Restoration Project $10,000.00
Tampa Bay Watch will lead this special habitat restoration project, working with local volunteers to complete the restoration at Elnor Island in Pinellas County. Volunteers will create oyster shell bags which will be transported and unloaded by Tampa Bay Watch staff to ensure proper placement. When complete Elnor Island will have 650 linear feet of reef shoreline.
Hillsborough, Manatee and Pinellas Counties
Keep Pinellas Beautiful
Adopt an Intercoastal Island Maintenance Program $1,750.00
Keep Pinellas Beautiful launched "Adopt an Intercoastal Island" last year to recruit volunteers and community/corporate organizations to take responsibility for removing litter and invasive plants from islands in the ICW. To date, all 20 adoptable spoil islands within Tampa Bay have been adopted. This grant will provide funds to remove large items such as tires and old appliance from the islands. Some items on the islands are too large for kayaks to remove and this project will retrieve those