Sea grapes, buttonwood and Florida privet is on the list of native coastal upland plants that are part of a plan to restore water quality in Feather Sound.
ST. PETERSBURG - Tampa Bay Watch, The Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Pinellas County and the Southwest Florida Water Management District will work with 75 community volunteers Saturday, March 9, to plant native coastal upland plants to restore Feather Sound.
The group will plant 800 one-gallon plants of sea grapes, buttonwood and Florida privet.
The Tampa Bay Estuary Program and other partners have been studying the Feather Sound portion of western Old Tampa Bay to determine why seagrasses aren’t returning as quickly as they are in other parts of the bay.
Scientists tested the water quality, monitored seagrass in the area and calculated the amount of pollution that may be entering the bay from runoff and other sources. With help from national experts, they developed recommendations to improve the condition of the water by restoring the wetlands that line the shoreline.
“The Feather Sound area is a priority for the Tampa Bay Estuary Program. With the right management, we could recover 1,000 acres of seagrass in the nearby shallow areas,” said Lindsay Cross, Environmental Science and Policy manager at TBEP. “We’re excited to work with the local community to restore this important area.”
The project team will restore more than 30 acres of marsh and mangrove wetlands in the area along Feather Sound Drive, including around the borrow pit and near Ulmerton Road. Invasive, exotic vegetation such as Brazilian pepper has been removed; now native coastal upland plants will be planted that will provide habitat for wildlife and help clean runoff before it enters the bay.
This phase also includes restoring more natural water flow within the mangrove area and recreating an important and highly impacted habitat called a saltern, which is a valuable seasonal feeding area for birds.
The Feather Sound Project has been supported by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Pinellas County, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, and Tampa Bay Watch.