Volunteers Plant Salt Marsh to Restore Rock Ponds

From toddlers to grandparents, volunteers of all ages recently planted salt marsh at the District’s Rock Ponds restoration site. 

About 275 volunteers from across the Tampa Bay area joined the District’s Surface Water Improvement and Management Program and Tampa Bay Watch in the planting of 32,000 marsh grass plugs. Hillsborough County and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission helped organize the event. 

planting marsh

The plants were installed at the Rock Ponds Ecosystem Restoration Project, located just north of the Manatee County line in Ruskin. The project will feature more than 1,000 acres of restored uplands and wetlands when completed in two years.

The planting of salt marsh protects and stabilizes low lying coastal lands and provides protection and food sources for estuarine and coastal fishery food chains of many species of fish and marine mammals. 

Brandt Henningsen, chief advisory environmental scientist, and Nancy Norton, senior professional engineer, helped lead the volunteers. Other staff members and Board member Wendy Griffin joined the volunteers to help plant plugs.

“We are appreciative of all the help from the public on the largest coastal ecosystem restoration project ever being done for Tampa Bay,” Henningsen said. 

To learn more about the SWIM program, visit WaterMatters.org/SWIM.