Sunday, November 18, 2018
News Roundup

Swiftmud launches largest restoration project ever in Tampa Bay

RUSKIN — On a postcard-perfect blue-sky day, with a flock of white pelicans taking flight from a nearby forest, a collection of local and state officials gathered Monday to salute the official start of the biggest environmental restoration project ever undertaken around Tampa Bay.

The project, known as the Rock Ponds Ecosystem Restoration, covers more than 1,000 acres and has been in the works for more than a decade, according to Jennette Seachrist of the Southwest Florida Water Management District — Swiftmud for short.

Prior owners of the property on the Hillsborough-Manatee county line ditched and drained its wetlands to make it suitable for agriculture, she explained. Over the next two years, Swiftmud and its partners at the Hillsborough County Commission will spend about $11 million to bring back the wetlands and other natural features.

Doing the job right will require bringing in 80,000 truckloads of dirt -— enough to run a caravan of dump trucks from Miami to Tampa, said Swiftmud executive director Robert Beltran.

The restoration also requires putting in 900,000 new plants, he said, involving what he predicted would be "the largest volunteer marsh-planting project in Tampa Bay history."

To get the ball rolling for the rest of the project, about 264 acres of uplands have already been restored, Swiftmud officials said. The area that was the target for Monday's kickoff calls for 398 acres to be turned into coastal and freshwater wetlands and 381 acres to be used as upland habitat. The land is near a similar restoration project at Cockroach Bay.

Among those who gathered for the project's official launch were state Department of Environmental Protection secretary Herschel Vinyard Jr. and Swiftmud board chairman Carlos Beruff. Instead of a ribbon-cutting or groundbreaking, they joined Beltran in hoisting a few shovelfuls of dirt to plant a small longleaf pine, and Beltran encouraged them to come back in two years to see the improvements.

Craig Pittman can be reached at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @craigtimes.

Comments
Bucs-Giants: Grading Tampa Bayís 38-35 loss

Bucs-Giants: Grading Tampa Bayís 38-35 loss

Jameis Winston rallied the Bucs after Fitzpatrick was benched in the third quarter.
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs-Giants: Jason Pierre-Paulís Meadowlands return lives up to the hype

Bucs-Giants: Jason Pierre-Paulís Meadowlands return lives up to the hype

The Bucs defensive end was received well, even cheered by Giants fans at times, while he logged 1-1/2 sacks of Eli Manning and seven tackles.
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bucs-Giants: Tight end O.J. Howard does not return after injuring ankle

Bucs-Giants: Tight end O.J. Howard does not return after injuring ankle

O.J. Howard, who was second on the Bucs with 78 receiving yards on six receptions, was injured on the Bucs' final touchdown drive of the day.
Updated: 3 hours ago
Man killed in shooting at Cedar Hollow Apartments on Friday

Man killed in shooting at Cedar Hollow Apartments on Friday

A man was killed at the Cedar Hollow Apartments in Pinellas Park late Friday.
Updated: 4 hours ago
Giantsí Odell Beckham, Jr., does his best Warren Sapp dance after scoring against Bucs

Giantsí Odell Beckham, Jr., does his best Warren Sapp dance after scoring against Bucs

After catching an eight-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning late in the third quarter, Odell Beckham, Jr., had a special Bucs-themed celebration planned.
Updated: 5 hours ago
Lightning journal: 20 games in, who is this team?

Lightning journal: 20 games in, who is this team?

The Lightning has consistently been at the top of the league, but that doesn't mean there aren't questions.
Updated: 5 hours ago
Bucs-Giants: Running back Peyton Barber has career day in Tampa Bayís loss

Bucs-Giants: Running back Peyton Barber has career day in Tampa Bayís loss

Peyton Barber ran for a career-high 106 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, the second career 100-yard game for the third-year back.
Updated: 5 hours ago
Giants QB Eli Manning is the latest to have a career day against the Buccaneers defense

Giants QB Eli Manning is the latest to have a career day against the Buccaneers defense

A by-the-numbers look at the Bucs' 38-35 loss to the Giants on Sunday.
Updated: 7 hours ago
With top player injured, No. 21 USF women roll past Oklahoma

With top player injured, No. 21 USF women roll past Oklahoma

Senior wing Laura Ferreira sinks eight 3-pointers en route to a career-high 34 points
Updated: 7 hours ago
Hudson man dies when Jeep crashes after leaving roadway

Hudson man dies when Jeep crashes after leaving roadway

The man's jeep struck a fence on the west shoulder, collided with a tree and overturned.
Updated: 8 hours ago