CCA FLORIDA JOINS U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR TO VISIT TAMPA BAY HABITAT PROJECT

Secretary of the Interior will showcase the success of a nonprofit-led habitat restoration project during Florida visit 

Orlando, Fla. – June 19, 2020 – Today, Coastal Conservation Association Florida (CCA Florida), the state’s leading organization dedicated to marine fisheries conservation, education and advocacy, joined U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt for a special event commemorating the success of its Fantasy Island habitat restoration project in Tampa Bay. 

The onetime eroding Fantasy Island, located in Hillsborough Bay near the mouth of Alafia River, suffered severe destruction due to heavy traffic from the nearby ship channel and topographical  shifts. In an effort to restore lost habitat systems to the Bay, prevent further erosion and improve water quality, CCA Florida the Building Conservation Trust (BCT) – the national habitat program of CCA – and Tampa Bay Watch joined forces to launch the restoration project in 2016 

“The Fantasy Island project is not just about habitat restoration, but habitat innovation through use of innovative design and science-backed data,” CCA Florida Chairman JD Dickenson said. “In collaboration with our partners, our work has enriched the ecological system for oysters, birds, and fisheries while improving water quality and increasing opportunities for Florida’s anglers.”

To kick off the project, more than 1,000 oyster domes and 40 tons of fossilized oyster shells were placed in two feet of water to allow for low tide and high tide exposure. The materials and location used created ideal conditions to initiate the development of a thriving oyster reef and stabilize 700 feet of the island’s southern shoreline.

Today, as a result of the restorative efforts, the planted spartina grass has spread nicely to stabilize the sand, and the placed reef balls and oyster domes are now covered with new oyster growth and the area is settled and stabilized. Additionally, the Island has become home to various species of fish and other sea life, such as crab and shrimp, and on land, white ibises have taken over and can be found nesting on almost every tree. The overall goal is to keep Fantasy Island protected by an ever-evolving, natural ecosystem. 

CCA Florida and BCT secured $50,000 of the necessary $150,000 for the project. CCA Florida is committed to enhancing Florida’s marine resources for today and generations to come 

Contact: Mary Hillyer Peelen| 407.617.0604 | mhpeelen@ccaflorida.org 

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About CCA Florida

The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) was founded in 1977 after drastic commercial overfishing along the Texas coast decimated redfish and speckled trout populations.  One of 19 state chapters, CCA Florida became the fifth state chapter in 1985.  A 501(c)3 non-profit, the purpose of CCA is to advise and educate the public on conservation of marine resources.  Through habitat restoration projects, water quality initiatives and fisheries advocacy, CCA Florida works with its over 18,000 members including recreational anglers and outdoor enthusiasts to conserve and enhance marine resources and coastal environments.  Join the conversation on Facebook or learn more at ccaflorida.org.

About The Building Conservation Trust 

The Building Conservation Trust (BCT) was founded in 2010 as the national marine habitat program of Coastal Conservation Association.  BCT is a 501c3 non-profit organization exclusively dedicated to providing funding for local, state and national fisheries, habitat conservation and restoration projects. BCT has created a model for the successful collaboration of business, non-profit organizations and government agencies to revitalize critical habitat and establish a vibrant foundation for the marine ecosystem.

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