Restore America's Estuaries brings science and business together for Tampa Bay

02.09.2015

Partnership with Tampa Bay Watch, Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Environmental Science Associates, NOAA, U.S. EPA, U.S. FWS, and ScottsMiracle-Gro will demonstrate how Bay restoration efforts can best help mitigate climate change impacts

Tampa, FL – Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) is excited to launch a study to benefit Tampa Bay, which is supported through a diverse coalition of partners. The study will model how effective coastal management and restoration projects in the Tampa Bay area can increase removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, while also providing additional ecosystem benefits such as improved water quality, nursery habitat for key species, and coastal resiliency. This will help local organizations and agencies understand what actions are needed most to help the Bay mitigate the effects of climate change, while continuing to improve habitat health. The study will begin February 12 with a presentation and discussion jointly hosted by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program’s Technical Advisory Committee along with the Agency on Bay Management.

A recent White House announcement of the President’s Climate and Natural Resources Priority Agenda highlighted the Tampa Project as an example of public-private commitment to support resilient natural systems.

Tampa Bay is one of the few places in the U.S. to have all three critical coastal habitats – salt marsh, seagrasses and mangroves. These habitats are extremely effective at removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in the soil for long periods of time, referred to as “blue carbon.” Coastal habitats provide many important benefits including improved water quality, shoreline protection from storms, and vital habitat for many critical fish and shell-fish species.

“Blue carbon recognizes the key role that coastal habitats play in building up and storing stocks of carbon in the rich organic soils of wetlands, mangroves and sea grasses,” said Paul Cough, Director of the Oceans and Coastal Protection Division at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “EPA is committed to working cooperatively with partners in Tampa Bay and throughout the nation to foster opportunities to pilot and implement blue carbon projects that will benefit local communities’ adaptation and mitigation efforts.”

“Estuaries like Tampa Bay are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, and now we know they also play a role in climate mitigation,” said Steve Emmett-Mattox, RAE’s Senior Director of Strategic Planning and Programs. “If we are going to protect them well into the future, we need a better understanding of how they work, and this collaborative effort brings the right expertise together in a unique way.”

The approach for this study was developed from an earlier study in the Snohomish estuary, Puget Sound, WA. [Click to read more about this landmark study demonstrating the climate benefits of  estuary restoration.] The Tampa Bay study has an expanded scope to include adaptation to sea-level rise, thus improving long term management of the bay area.

Contact: Steve Emmett-Mattox 720.300.3139
Read the Full Press Release at Restore America's Estuaries