Tampa Bay’s largest ecosystem restoration complete after 2 years and $11.9 million

Volunteers have put the finishing touches to a two-year project to restore more than 1,000 acres of wetlands, uplands, saltwater and freshwater marshes.

The Rock Ponds Ecosystem Restoration Project is the biggest such effort in Tampa Bay’s (Florida, USA) history and it used a cadre of volunteers and paid help to dredge, move earth and plant natural foliage on the publicly owned property.

Volunteer Lisa Long said she has come out four times to help restore nature here in this pristine part of the coastline just south of Cockroach Bay and north of the Manatee County line.

I want to help,” she said, “I want to build something; to leave it better than when I came here.

Under the Surface Water Improvement and Management program at the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the $11.9 million Rock Ponds project is the largest ecosystem restoration ever undertaken in the region. On Wednesday, the district will hold a dedication ceremony marking the completion of the work.

The project illustrates the cooperation of the state, the water management district and Hillsborough County, all of which paid for the land and the work done to shape and mold the property into a natural wildlife habitat.

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