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Gulf Coast Oyster Recycling and Renewal project wins Golden Mangrove Award

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ST. PETERSBURG – Solutions To Avoid Red Tide (START) received the Golden Mangrove Award for their project, Gulf Coast Oyster Recycling and Renewal, selected by TBEP’s Community Advisory Committee as the best Bay Mini-Grant of 2016-2017.

The project used a $5,000 TBEP Bay Mini-Grant to purchase equipment and engage partners in diverting oyster shells from disposal by local restaurants and, instead, using them to restore habitats that improve the estuary’s nutrient filtration capacity.

The award was presented to START’s Sandy Gilbert and Mary Anne Bowie at the TBEP Community Advisory Committee’s meeting on September 26. Bowie shared the project’s accomplishments to date, including over 900 volunteers engaged, numerous partnerships developed and additional support leveraged, and a whopping 26 tons of oyster shells collected from just 3 restaurants. Jan Allyn, TBEP’s Community Advisory Committee Co-chair, had this to say about START’s award:

“They really maximized the impact of the grant to gain its full advantage. They did an excellent job of creating partnerships and incorporating both volunteerism and environmental education into the project. It will have lasting impact since they plan to expand the project in the future, and they are making changes based on what they have learned to make the project even better as they move forward.”

Gulf Coast Oyster Recycling and Renewal was one of 21 Bay Mini-Grant projects approved in 2016-2017. Bay Mini-Grants are funded by the sale of Tampa Bay Estuary specialty license plates. Since 2000, more than $1.6 million has been distributed to support local organizations in their efforts to help restore and protect Tampa Bay.

For more information about the Gulf Coast Oyster Recycling and Renewal project, visit or contact Mary Anne Bowie at 941-321-0424.

For more information about TBEP’s Bay Mini-Grants, visit or contact Andy Fairbanks at 727-893-2765.