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The Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund At Work
The 2018 Request For Proposals is now closed.
The Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund (TBERF) is a competitive grants program with the goal of funding projects which restore and protect Tampa Bay and its watershed. It is managed through a strategic partnership between the Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP) and Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE), who work together to encourage local and national contributions from the public and private sectors and achieve measurable conservation outcomes. The founding partners of TBERF are the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Restore America's Estuaries, Southwest Florida Water Management District, and The Mosaic CompanyThe TBERF would not be possible without the commitment and generosity of the many organizations. Please take a moment to visit our sponsors page to view some of these committed partners.
The goal of the TBERF is to establish the habitat, species, and nutrient reduction priorities that have been developed by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program and its partners, and outlined in the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP), Charting the Course (For more information, click here).  Eligible projects will advance the following priorities: 
  • Recover an additional 5,103 acres of seagrass over 2010 levels, while preserving the bay’s existing grass beds and reducing propeller scarring of seagrasses.
  • Prevent increases in nitrogen entering the bay and assist in maintaining nitrogen loading at 2003-2007 levels by implementing innovative stormwater management projects and programs.
  • “Restore the historic balance” of coastal wetland habitats by restoring an additional 1,918 acres of salt marsh, including low-salinity tidal marsh, as approved in the TBEP 2010 Habitat Master Plan Update.
  • Restore an additional 840 acres of salt barren (saltern) habitat in Tampa Bay.
  • Restore and protect connectivity and function of fisheries habitat in the bay’s tidal streams and creeks.
  • Benefit declining, threatened or endangered species at the state or federal level, or as identified in the CCMP, through addressing long term solutions to the conservation of a species and/or restoring associated habitat.

To date, TBERF, and its predecessor the Tampa Bay Environmental Fund, has received over $1.5 million to support 18 projects throughout the Tampa Bay watershed.  

View Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund in a full screen map

2018 Projects

  • Robinson Preserve Expansion-Winston Tract ($100,994) Manatee County will remove nuisance exotic vegetation (Brazilian pepper; carrotwood; Australian pines) and re-establish native plants on approximately 53.25 acres in the vicinity of Lower Tampa Bay.

  • Safety Harbor Living Shoreline and Spring Restoration ($78,500) The City of Safety Harbor will build upon the recently-completed Downtown Safety Harbor Waterfront Park Project. This phase expands the shoreline restoration effort to the south, removing a dilapidated seawall and replacing it with a living shoreline. Additionally, the outfall of an existing spring will be improved. 

  • Microplastics in Tampa Bay ($108,736) Eckerd College will continue to examine spatial and temporal trends of microplastics in Tampa Bay. Microplastic concentrations will be measured in surface waters (net tow and discrete water samples), sediments, wastewater treatment effluent, as well as within copepod (micrograzer) and manatee (macrograzer) guts. 

  • Bay Grasses in Classes Coastal Resilience ($60,000) Tampa Bay Watch will educate students about the potential impacts of climate change on coastal habitats through classroom and field experiences. Students will enhance the coastal resilience of vulnerable habitats by participating in local restoration projects. Juncus Roemerianus, or Black Needlerush, will also be incorporated into the on-campus nurseries to prepare for the high marsh and lower salinity needs of current restoration goals.  

  • Linking Pyrodinium Physiology and Behavior to Population Growth/Loss ($92,037) The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Fish and Wildlife Research Institute will use high resolution sampling in Old Tampa Bay to quantify population growth rates, spatial/temporal variability, and vertical migration during blooms of the harmful alga, Pyrodinium. Empirical and conceptual growth and loss models, augmented by leveraged findings from lab experiments, will inform bloom management and mitigation strategies. 

  • Overcoming Bay Scallop Recruitment Limitations ($91,934) The University of Florida will release scallop larvae at two high quality sites at varying densities to determine whether intensive larval release is a viable option for bay scallop restoration in Tampa Bay. A control site will be monitored to determine background population status in the target region. Spat collectors will be used to quantify bay scallop recruitment and genetic parentage analysis will be used to reveal the contribution of restoration to the overall population.

  • WWTP Risk in High Precipitation Events for ($42,849) The University of South Florida will develop a risk model based on precipitation, storm surge, and water utility records to predict future probability of sanitary sewer overflows under accepted sea level rise scenarios.  

  • Tampa Bay Circulation Model ($76,104)The University of South Florida will further develop the Tampa Bay circulation model to help interpret ocean acidification variables, such as carbon dioxide, that vary across the water column due to influences by direct air-sea exchange and advection/diffusion.  

  • Monitoring of Restored and Natural Oyster Reefs in Tampa Bay (89,190)**  This project will establish systematic monitoring for oyster restoration projects and natural reefs within Tampa Bay  and use information gained to help accelerate development of restored reefs through improved targeting of locations, timing, and appropriate materials. A new oyster restoration project at MacDill Air Force Base will also be installed, including before and after monitoring and comparison with a series of nearby well-established restoration projects. Project partners include FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Tampa Bay Watch, and TBEP.

  • Sunken Island Habitat Restoration for Waterbird Nesting ($80,300)**  Audubon Florida will restore waterbird nesting habitat by removing invasive trees and planting native species at the Richard T. Paul Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary, one of Florida's most important bird colonies. Monocultures of non-native vegetation will be replaced with native tree species, increasing nesting habitat, and maintained for several years.

  • Tampa Bay Living Shoreline Suitability Extension ($25,600)**  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Fish and Wildlife Research Institute will extend the application of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science's Living Shoreline Suitability Model to approximately 750 linear miles of shoreline within TBEP's boundary, extending from the western side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, northward through "The Narrows" of Indian Rocks Beach, southward to the Manatee Ave. bridge near Holmes Beach, and westward to the shoreward side of Egmont Key. Approximately 950 linear miles of Tampa Bay, stretching from the eastern side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge (I-275) into Tampa Bay, Old Tampa Bay, Hillsborough Bay, and the associated tributaries have previously been mapped with this model application.

  • Connor Park  ($50,000)**  The City of Palmetto will install educational signage and a living shoreline on a 3-acre site along the north side of the Manatee River. The project will implement various low impact design techniques and feature an inverted living shoreline using reef balls.

    **Grant to be administered by Restore America's Estuaries          

2017 Projects

  • Boyd Hill Nature Preserve Freshwater Wetland Restoration ($200,000) The Southwest Florida Water Management District will restore hydrology by modifying and back-filling a network of channels and ditches to create or enhance 30-acres of freshwater wetland habitat throughout a 400-acre natural area in south St. Petersburg.
  • Coastal and Estuarine Acidification Monitoring in the Tampa Bay Region ($147,579) The United States Geological Survey will establish a near-shore ocean acidification monitoring station west of Tampa Bay’s entrance channel and monitor coastal carbon system parameters (pH, O2, CTD, PAR and pCO2) to complement estuarine data collection efforts at a similar station within Tampa Bay near Port Manatee.
  • Evaluation of Sportfish Habitat Utilization, Growth, and Condition at Large-Scale Restorations in Tampa Bay to Inform and Prioritize Past, Future, and Ongoing Restoration Activities ($114,912) The University of Florida will examine habitat features at large-scale restoration sites that contribute to diverse and healthy native fish communities. Results from this work will be used to inform past, ongoing, and future restoration activities.
  • Hard Bottom Mapping and Characterization within the Tampa Bay Watershed ($52,500) The Tampa Bay Estuary Program will map hard bottom habitats in the Pinellas County Aquatic Preserve boundaries between the Skyway and Gandy Bridges. The data collected will inform protection and restoration targets for this habitat within Tampa Bay.
  • Ignacio Haya Living Shoreline ($76,000) The City of Tampa will stabilize and restore wetland vegetation by creating a living shoreline along 2,200 linear feet of the eastern bank of the Hillsborough River between Hillsborough Avenue and West South Avenue.
  • Microplastics in Tampa Bay ($40,000) Eckerd College will formalize monitoring methods, determine baseline concentrations, and explore sources/sinks of microplastics in Tampa Bay.
  • Mobbly Bayou Habitat Restoration ($200,000) The Southwest Florida Water Management District will restore and enhance tidal creeks and other estuarine habitats within a preserve located on the northern shore of Old Tampa Bay by hydro-blasting spoil mounds, creating littoral shelves, and establishing ditch blocks.
  • Perico Robinson Connector ($39,333) Manatee County will enhance 4.5 acres of coastal upland habitat that connects to a larger network of preservation lands near Perico Bayou.
  • Woodstork Stormwater Pond Restoration ($10,000) The Shores of Long Bayou Home Owners Association will remove invasive species from the Woodstork Pond and install native plants along the shoreline. 

2016 Projects

Without our sponsor organizations, the TBERF would not be able to work as tirelessly to restore Tampa's beautiful bay and wetlands. 2016 Donors include The Mosaic Company, Southwest Florida Water Management District, Hillsborough County, Manatee County, Florida Department of Transportation, Pinellas County, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and TECO. These projects include:

  • McKay Bay South Oyster Reef Creation Project; Tampa Bay Watch The McKay Bay South Oyster Reef Creation Project involves the placement of 317 tons of oyster shell for a total of 3,170 linear feet of oyster reef and two 45’ diameter oyster beds along 4,000’ of the southwestern shoreline of McKay Bay.

  • Facilitation of Seagrass Productivity in Tampa Bay Using the Indigenous, Suspension Feeding Bivalve, Mercenaria campechiensis; Gulf Shellfish Institute This project is designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of planting clams, Mercenaria campechiensis, as a means of improving water quality, increasing biodeposition of nutrients to sediments, and ultimately increasing productivity of seagrasses in Tampa Bay. This is potentially a more cost-effective means of increasing seagrass habitat than traditional seagrass planting.

  • Colonial Waterbird Management in the Tampa Bay Watershed; Audubon Florida Audubon will manage colonial waterbird nesting colony and bird habitat sites in the Tampa Bay watershed and Pinellas County, work with colony managers to survey and post sites they are responsible for, enlist local volunteers, and address through educational outreach regionally significant bird conservation issues, including fishing practices that injure wildlife.

  • Little Manatee River Corridor Restoration Plan; Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) This project is a comprehensive restoration feasibility study involving habitat mapping, conceptual restoration designs, and prioritization of ecosystem restoration projects for approximately 7,166 acres of publicly owned land along the Little Manatee River in Hillsborough County. Prioritized projects will then be incrementally implemented by SWFWMD in partnership with Hillsborough County over multiple fiscal years.

  •  CCMP Local Government Comprehensive Plan Crosswalk; Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council Translating goals and actions across multiple governmental entities and policy instruments can be challenging, especially when professionals possess differing disciplinary training. The Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) Local Government Comprehensive Plan Crosswalk project will offer a technical assistance tool for local governments seeking to incorporate CCMP actions and goals into their comprehensive plans.

  • Eagle Lake Park Water Quality Improvement Project ($150,000) Pinellas County will design and construct significant stormwater improvements to an 8-acre natural pond at a public park in the Allen's Creek watershed. The pond redesign will remove an estimated 273 pounds of nitrogen per year, while serving as an innovative demonstration of stormwater Best Management Practices for the public. 
  • MacDill AFB Saltern Habitat Restoration Project ($93,775) The Ecosphere Restoration Institute will eliminate remnant mosquito control ditches and mounds that bisected historic high salt marshes (salterns) on the military base, allowing flows to resume and restore this rare wetland habitat in the bay watershed. 
  • Fish Communities Associated with Hard Bottom Habitats in Tampa Bay ($80,441) A detailed survey of fish communities associated with natural and artificial hard bottom habitats (such as limestone outcroppings, fossilized coral and artificial reefs) will be conducted by FWC's Fish & Wildlife Research Institute. The surveys will employ video and mapping. 
  • Microplastics in Tampa Bay ($14,122)Eckerd College professor David Hastings and students will assess the abundance and distribution of microplastic particles in bay waters and surface sediments monthly for nine months. The effluent of three wastewater treatment facilities also will be sampled. 


2015 Projects

Without our sponsor organizations, the TBERF would not be able to work as tirelessly to restore Tampa's beautiful bay and wetlands. In 2015, $673,000 in contributions from our sponsors helped with partial funding of 7 projects around the country. Donors include The Mosaic Company, South Florida Water Management District, Hillsborough County, Manatee County, Florida Department of Transportation, Pinellas County, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and TECO. These projects include:

  • Examination of the ecological habitat value through water quality, fisheries usage, and benthic resources monitoring of 10 dredged holes in Tampa Bay and make restoration reccomendations
  • The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will characterize the distribution of Pyrodinium bahamense resting cysts to find timing, location, and severity of the blooms 
  • Tampa Bay Watch will place 1,080 oyster domes and about 2,370 oyster shell bags to control erosion and implement ecosystem restoration along the southern shoreline of Fantasy Island
  • Southwest Florida Water Management District plans to restore hydrolic flow and circulation between two backwater bays currently blocked by a land bridge 
  • Through collection, analysis, and integration of field data describing biomass, soil carbon stocks, and carbon sequestration rates in the Tampa Bay estuary, the Tampa Bay Blue Carbon Assessment's effectiveness will be improved
  • The Terra Ceia Huber and Frog Creek Upland Project, an initiative to restore and enhance approximately 112 upland acres adjacent to Terra Ceia Bay. 
  • The Manatee County Board of County Commissioners will lead this project, which is a continuation of a monitoring program initiated in 2013 to document results of on-ground projects like ditch filling and weir installation at Duette and Headwaters Preserve

 2014 Projects

The TBERF would not be possible without the commitment and generosity of many organizations. $625,000  in contributions to the Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund were provided in 2014 by the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD); The Mosaic Company; Manatee County; Pinellas County; TECO Energy; the Florida Department of Transportation; and Port Tampa Bay. 

Nine projects were selected for full or partial funding in 2014, and each project is required to have a dollar-for-dollar match, further leveraging the impact of the grant funds.  These projects are expected to provide significant environmental benefits for Tampa Bay and include:

  • planting 1,000 linear feet of salt marsh grass and placing 137 tons of oyster reef along the shoreline of MacDill AFB;
  • installing 7,500-square-feet of oyster beds at Robinson Preserve;
  • removing invasive species and replanting native species to restore 6 acres of wetlands at Safety Harbor Waterfront Park;
  • planting marsh grasses utilizing community volunteers to enhance or restore 20 acres of tidal wetland habitat
  • restoring forested and non-forested freshwater wetlands by removing manmade ditches to recreate natural hydrologic flows in the eastern Manatee River watershed; and
  • managing and tracking population trends and threats in nationally significant waterbird nesting colonies


Maya Burke, TBEP Technical Projects Coordinator, mburke@tbep.org and Elsa Carlisle, Restore America’s Estuaries, ecarlisle@estuaries.org.


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