Tampa Bay Restoration

Habitat Restoration Projects within the Tampa Bay Area

The restoration database contains information about habitat projects that have occurred since the 1970s in the Tampa Bay watershed. Clicking a project icon on the map will bring up a popup with basic information about the project. The entire database may be downloaded to obtain information about all projects, or more detailed information about a particular project.

Disclaimer: Information and completeness vary by project, with more recent projects often containing more detailed information. Please be aware that the current database is the best approximation of habitat protection and restoration projects, but may contain errors. Bay Area scientists and resource managers will continue to update this database with new projects and refine the existing entries.

Restoring Florida's Habitats

Florida's population has increased steadily since the 1950s, with most of this growth occurring along Florida's coasts, resulting in a significant loss of natural landscapes. To compensate, public and public-private partnerships have funded property purchases for habitat protection and restoration. The Tampa Bay Estuary Program works with a variety of governmental and non-governmental partners to enhance, establish, and protect valuable habitats. These projects often bring together scientists and community volunteers to effectively manage and restore properties.

The Value of Healthy And Viable Habitats

Functional habitats containing native species are vital for the health and viability of waterbodies and the many organisms that live in and around the water. Native vegetation, including grasses, shrubs, and trees, serves many purposes such as:

  • Filtering pollutants from urban and residential areas
  • Decreasing the velocity of stormwater runoff
  • Controlling soil erosion
  • Providing habitat, nursery areas, and food for faunal species

Humans also benefit from healthy habitats for recreation and other activities, including wildlife viewing.

The habitats of Tampa Bay, such as seagrasses, mangroves, salt marshes, and wet prairies, provide food, shelter, and other important services that support numerous birds, fish, mammals, and invertebrates. The Habitat Master Plan, updated in 2020, seeks to maximize the potential habitat protection and restoration opportunities within the Tampa Bay watershed. This “Maximizing the Potential” approach, is informed by past changes, as determined through a three-decade habitat change analysis, and over forty years of habitat restoration experience in the region. It is also primarily focused on what is possible today rather than replicating past ecological conditions. This paradigm also accommodates future stressors – especially sea level rise, climate change, and development – into the target setting process. The Habitat Master Plan defines 10-year (2030) habitat protection and restoration targets and 30-year (2050) goals.

Project Map

Click on a project marker to view details or click on the button below the map to view an advanced, fullscreen version.

Estuarine Habitat Restoration Activities

The Estuary Restoration Act (ERA), signed into law in November 2000, makes restoring our estuaries a national priority. The Act promotes the restoration of one million acres of estuarine habitat by 2010 by leveraging limited federal resources with state and local funding; developing and enhancing monitoring and research capabilities; and encouraging partnerships among public agencies and between the public and private sectors.

In addition to the National Estuary Programs, agencies in Florida involved with habitat restoration include national agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and US Army Corps of Engineers; state agencies such as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the Water Management Districts (WMD); and local agencies.

The primary agencies and groups involved in habitat restoration in the Tampa Bay region include the Southwest Florida Water Management District's (SWFWMD) Surface Water Improvement and Management Program (SWIM); the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP); Hillsborough, Manatee and Pinellas Counties; the cities of Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater; the Tampa Bay Estuary Program; Audubon of Florida, a conservation organization; and Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful and Tampa Bay Watch, community stewardship organizations.

The Tampa Bay Habitat Restoration Database was developed to compile and track the thousands of acres of habitat enhanced, established, or protected by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program and its partners. Population growth and associated conversion of land to residential and commercial uses has reinforced the need to preserve and/or restore valuable habitat areas. Numerous agencies in the Tampa Bay area are active in habitat protection and restoration. Some projects include limiting the development rights or purchasing lands for public use, such as parks or preserves. Other times, it is necessary to restore habitats that have been lost or degraded, in order to provide for the needs of wildlife. These projects are time-consuming, costly and labor-intensive, but are an excellent way to replace habitats that have been lost.