TERRA CEIA - Tampa Bay Watch is coordinating community volunteers and representatives from the Tampa Bay Rays baseball organization to plant 5,000 plugs of salt marsh grass and 80 one-gallon red mangrove trees along the Terra Ceia shoreline on the morning of Saturday, Jan. 10.
Salt marsh planting projects are an environmental tool for restoring lost coastal habitat.
The project is another step in the Rays green initiative, Teaming Up for the Environment, which was launched during the 2008 season. The sustainable business program focuses on green procurement, practices and advocacy.
“As part of our Employee Community Outreach Team program, we encourage all employees to take up to two paid hours each week or one day each month to volunteer in the community,” said Brian Auld, Rays senior vice president of Business Operations. “This project was initiated by our staff and it meshes perfectly with our organization’s green efforts.”
Terra Ceia Ecosystem Restoration Project is a joint acquisition of the Southwest Florida Water Management District and the state of Florida and is located in Manatee County just north of Palmetto.
The planting of spartina alterniflora, salt marsh or smooth cord grass, and mangroves will protect and stabilize low lying coastal lands and provide protection and food sources for estuarine and coastal fishery food chains. The plants serve as feeding, breeding and nursery grounds for a variety of fish, shellfish, birds and other wildlife.
Mangroves also produce 3.6 tons per acre of leaf litter per year which benefit estuarine food chains. An estimated 75 percent of the game fish and 90 percent of the commercial species in Florida depend on the mangrove system.