Decades of heightened development and increased pollution have destroyed plush seagrass beds, mangroves and other essential habitats in the Tampa Bay ecosystem. These habitats host a myriad of diverse species: a few hundred species of fish; marine invertebrates like mussels, scallops, clams, crabs and shrimp; more than 24 species of native birds and marine animals like bottlenose dolphins and manatees. Many of these species are commercially viable and some, like the West Indian manatee, are threatened or endangered.
NFWF's Tampa Bay Environmental Fund (TBEF) focuses on the protection, restoration and enhancement of the natural resources of Tampa Bay. It concentrates on implementing habitat, species, and nutrient reduction priorities that have been developed by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program and its partners, and are outlined in the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, Charting the Course.
The program supports restoration of seagrass, marshes and mangroves and the implementation of stormwater best management practices to improve the water quality of the bay.
Funding priorities for this program include:
- Recovery of an additional 5,103 acres of seagrass over 2010 levels;
- Reducing nitrogen pollution in the bay;
- Restoration of an additional 1,918 acres of salt marsh and 840 acres of salt barren (saltern) habitat;
- Restoration and protection of the connectivity and function of fish habitat in the bay’s tidal streams and creeks; and
- Recovery of declining, threatened or endangered species through conservation of a species and/or restoring associated habitat.
Since its inception in 2011, the TBEF has invested more than $420,000 and leveraged over $620,000 to restore approximately 951 acres.