The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay (CFTB) today announced a $25,000 grant to Tampa Bay Watch to support the construction of oyster reefs along the shorelines of three St. Petersburg city parks: Bay Vista and Maximo on the city’s southern tip and Abercrombie Park on Boca Ciega Bay off Park Street.
The oyster reefs will help stop erosion and create a new natural habitat for oysters to grow, providing food for birds and wildlife, improving water quality and stabilizing the shoreline.
The grant to Tampa Bay Watch is in conjunction with CFTB’s involvement in the Blue Ocean Film Festival, coming to St. Petersburg next month. The Foundation is a supporting sponsor of the international festival, which is expected to draw 20,000 visitors to St. Petersburg.
“We’re excited to partner with the Blue Ocean Film Festival and with Tampa Bay Watch to call attention to the conservation needs of our bays and oceans, and we hope that our grant to Tampa Bay Watch will spur others to get involved in this important work,” said Marlene Spalten, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. “Preserving and improving our natural environment is a top priority for the Foundation and its donors.”
Spalten said she hopes CFTB’s grant will draw attention to the work Tampa Bay Watch has been doing on behalf of the environment.
“In addition to offering financial support, the Foundation also works to connect our local nonprofits with additional sources of funding and with others who are working toward a similar purpose,” Spalten said. “We see that as part of our mission in the community.”
The oyster reef project – expected to cost up to $100,000 — will involve 150 tons of fossilized oyster shells, which will be shoveled into mesh bags then transported and installed near the parks’ shorelines. The shell-filled bags provide a hard surface for oyster larvae to settle upon and grow, eventually forming a natural reef.
“Community Foundation of Tampa Bay support for restoring critical coastal oyster reefs ensures that the Tampa Bay estuary will continue to improve,” says Peter Clark, President of Tampa Bay Watch, “not only for fish and wildlife resources but for the residents and visitors who depend upon a healthy bay to support the quality of our community.”
Volunteers of all ages will support the construction of the oyster reefs, anticipated for spring 2015.