Volunteers Remove Invasive Plants
Volunteers from the Tampa Bay Sea Aquarium, University of Tampa, and Sexton and 74th Street elementary schools picked air potatoes during a recent cleanup event at the park.
Twenty-nine volunteers recently plucked potatoes at Sawgrass Lake Park, but these aren’t the spuds you’ll find on your dinner table.
Volunteers from the Tampa Bay Sea Aquarium, University of Tampa, and Sexton and 74th Street elementary schools picked air potatoes during a recent cleanup event at the park. The air potatoes were removed because they are an invasive plant due to their ability to displace native species and disrupt natural processes such as fire and water flow.
The air potato vine can grow extremely quickly, roughly 8 inches per day. It typically climbs to the tops of trees and has a tendency to take over native plants.
Staff environmental scientist Mike Dalsis attended the event to discuss a habitat enhancement project for the approximately 315-acre water management area. This involves removing nonnative species found in the area and adding native plants like trees, shrubs and grass. More than 100,000 native aquatic and upland plants will be added.
The removal of the nonnative vegetation from stormwater channels will help improve flow, water quality and allow a greater diversity of native aquatic habitats to persist. To date, more than 500 pounds of the nonnative air potato have been removed from Sawgrass Lake Park by volunteers during two events.
Bradenton Riverwalk Opens
Left: The District invested about $607,000 on elements of the project to improve water quality. Right: The 1.5-mile Riverwalk includes a splash fountain, playground and skate park.
Dog walkers, joggers and skateboarders are among the many who have visited the new Bradenton Riverwalk since it opened.
The city of Bradenton recently held a grand opening for the $6.2 million project with hopes of attracting 250,000 people downtown each year and creating an annual economic return of more than $10 million. The 1.5-mile Riverwalk includes an amphitheater, day dock, splash fountain, playground, skate park, and recreation areas, and the entire stretch will be equipped with wireless capability.
The District invested about $607,000 on elements of the project to improve the quality of water discharging to the Manatee River. The portions include a stormwater pond enhancement area, tidal pool creation area, an upland restoration area and a bio-swale along the Manatee River.
Volunteers Plant Marsh Grass at Cockroach Bay
Left: Volunteers made their way over to islands to plant salt marsh plugs. Right: About 10,000 marsh grass plugs were planted.
About 100 volunteers weren’t afraid to get down and dirty recently at a salt marsh planting event at Cockroach Bay. The volunteers planted about 10,000 plugs of marsh grass in the newly created 45-acre wetland at the Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve.
The planting kicked off Restore America’s Estuaries’ 6th National Conference on Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration. About 1,000 people attended the weeklong event in Tampa that emphasized the importance of coastal restoration through policy, science, business and best management practices.
Brandt Henningsen, District chief environmental scientist, helped lead the volunteers in coordination with Tampa Bay Watch.