An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: University of South Florida

Tampa Bay Water Atlas


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.

Tampa Bay supports a mosaic of habitats, including estuarine wetlands, freshwater wetlands, upland forests, seagrass beds, and submerged hard bottom. A key goal of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program is restoring habitats in their historic ratios. This means that certain habitats that have been lost in proportionally larger amounts, such as salt barrens, may be a higher priority for restoration and protection. Both aquatic and terrestrial species occur in the watershed and some species use various habitats at different stages of their life; for example, larval fish utilize the freshwater portions of tidal creeks before venturing into saltier bay water as adults. For these reasons, it is important to provide an appropriate amount of many habitat types.

Project Map

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

Open the advanced, fullscreen map

Download the entire database

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 (HC), Manatee (MC) and Pinellas (PC) Counties; the cities of Tampa (CoT), St. Petersburg (St.Pete), and Clearwater (Clw); the Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP); Audubon of Florida (Aud), a conservation organization; and Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful (KTBB) and Tampa Bay Watch (TBW), community stewardship organizations.

The following web sites contain additional information about state and federal habitat restoration programs: National Estuary Restoration Inventory (NERI), Florida Wetlands Restoration Information Center (FWRIC).

The Tampa Bay Habitat Restoration Database was developed to compile and track the thousands of acres of enhanced, established, or protected habitat 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.