Saturday, December 16, 2017
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
Lightning wins at Avalanche with four-goal second period

Lightning wins at Avalanche with four-goal second period

DENVER — When Avalanche coach Jared Bednar was asked Saturday morning what was the biggest challenge facing the Lightning, he smiled."Everything," he said.That includes Tampa Bay’s quick-strike blueline.Lightning defensemen scored four goals Saturday...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Bucs’ Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David out for Monday’s game vs. Falcons

TAMPA — As if containing All-Pro Julio Jones and the Falcons offense isn’t challenging enough, the Bucs will try to do so Monday night without perhaps their top defensive players, tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David.On Saturday, Bucs coa...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

WASHINGTON — Closing in on the first major legislative achievement of his term, President Donald Trump on Saturday defended the Republican tax cut as a good deal for the middle class while boldly suggesting it could lead to explosive economic growth....
Updated: 4 hours ago
Aquarium reopens to divers

Aquarium reopens to divers

Florida Keys News BureauVisitors to Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters dive with among indigenous Keys fish Friday in Marathon. The attraction reopened Friday after closing just before Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys on Sept. 10. Although tourism f...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Florida moves to control booming, invasive iguanas

Florida moves to control booming, invasive iguanas

MIAMI — With burrowing iguanas showing up in people’s toilets and damaging expensive sewer lines, Florida wildlife managers are stepping up efforts to control the state’s booming population of the wild, invasive reptiles. The Florida Fish and Wildlif...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Fan helps fund Miami Stadium’s historic marker

MIAMI — For thousands of kids who grew up in Miami, going to the old Miami Stadium in the Allapattah neighborhood was a part of coming of age. Opened on Aug. 31, 1949, with a game between the Miami Sun Sox and Havana Cubans, two Class B Florida Inter...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Florida man sues for $2.8 million fishing tournament prize money

Florida man sues for $2.8 million fishing tournament prize money

OCEAN CITY, Md. — Phil Heasley of Naples caught the fish of his life, but the $2.8 million in tournament prize money got away. Heasley reeled in a 6-foot white marlin last year off Maryland’s coast. But in a sign of how concerned some big money tour...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Sometime soon, members of the Florida House will be asked to consider a solution for bullying in public schools. It’s a dubious idea based on the premise that students should flee their tormenters, and use voucher funds to attend a private school of ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Two die in head-on crash on Gunn Highway in Odessa

ODESSA — Hillsborough County deputies are investigating a head-on crash on Gunn Highway that killed two and sent a child to the hospital Saturday afternoon.About 12: 45 p.m., Terry Lee Bronschidle, 70, of Tampa was driving his Chevy Traverse south on...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Q&A with Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx about the Lightning’s next generation

Q&A with Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx about the Lightning’s next generation

DENVER — There might be one team in hockey hotter than the Lightning.It is Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate, Syracuse.The Crunch has won 10 straight after Friday’s victory over Providence. Why is this important? While the AHL is a developmental league, the ...
Updated: 5 hours ago