April/ May 2003
Vol. X Number 2
Bayshore Made More
Nearly 100 volunteers participated in the first-ever habitat restoration along Tampa’s scenic Bayshore Boulevard during the “Give A Day For The Bay” workday on March 15.
The volunteers installed 127 large reef balls —each weighing about 100 pounds — along a segment of Bayshore Boulevard across from Villa Rosa Street. The reef balls will reduce wave erosion of the shoreline, allowing expansion of a small intertidal wetland island and enhancing habitat for fish and birds.
Volunteers climbed a ladder up and over the balustrade, down into the bay at low tide, where they formed a “firemen line” to shuttle the reef balls, one by one, on a wooden stretcher, to deeper water. It took more than two hours, a lot of muscle power, and some good-natured teamwork to hoist all 127 reef balls into place. Organizers hope the reefballs will reduce erosion of this small patch of shore, allowing the marsh grass to take root and eventually give way to mangroves.
Also on the same day, the volunteers planted 1,650 plugs of Spartina alterniflora along the Bayshore shoreline. This saltmarsh will also help protect the coastline and reintroduces a native wetland plant that has been diminished by urban construction. The plants came from the nursery of the Bay Grasses in Classes students at Young Middle School in Tampa.
The entire project was jump-started three years ago by Army Lt. Col. Eric McKsymick, a nearby Bayshore resident who saw the struggling wetland area along the seawall and began searching for ways to protect and enlarge it. He encouraged the Bayshore Beautiful Neighborhood Association to apply for a grant from the Tampa Bay Estuary Program to install the reef balls. McKysmick, who has since been transferred to Alabama, returned to Tampa for the event to see his vision come to life.This project was a true cooperative effort. Tampa BayWatch helped to construct and deploy the reef balls, the Coastal Conservation Association organized the entire event and built the reef ball stretchers, the Tampa Bay Estuary Program recruited volunteers and provided T-shirts, and Bayshore Beautiful Neighborhood Association provided lunch. The city of Tampa provided permitting and staff support for the project.
The reef ball installation was financed by revenues from the Tampa Bay Estuary license plate, featuring a dramatic illustration of a “Silver King” tarpon.