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Environment: Tampa

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The Tampa Port Authority (TPA) reports the completion of a major environmental rehabilitation project.

Tampa Port Authority Completes Major Environmental Restoration Project, Restores Habitat

The Tampa Port Authority (TPA) reports the completion of a major environmental rehabilitation project. The McKay Bay Mitigation Site (MBMS) is a 19+ acre mitigation site located on the McKay Bay peninsula, in the northern portion of McKay Bay.

The peninsula was created in the 1950s with dredge spoil from the channelization of the Palm River. The topography of the site was raised to an elevation of 10-plus feet above its historic elevation. In the five decades since the creation of the peninsula, the interior site been colonized by exotic vegetation with a fringe of mangroves along the shoreline. 

In 2009, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer (USACE) issued permits authorizing the project. Collectively these permits allowed for the development of the East Port Berths 151 and 152 and the construction of the MBMS.

In 2011, the port authority entered in a joint partnership with the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) and the Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) group to fill the McKay Bay Dredge Hole (MBDH). Under FDEP and USACE permits, the material to be excavated from the MBMS was to be transported and placed into the MBDH to raise the bottom elevation of the dredge hole to approximately match the surrounding grades.

Design for the MBMS consisted of clearing the 19-acre site of exotic vegetation and excavating approximately 200,000 cubic yards (CY) of material to create a mixture of planting habitats and open water features. The authorized activities included the preservation of a 1.7-acre mangrove shoreline, creation of 3.5 acres of mangrove habitat, creation of 8.4 acres of saltwater marsh, creation of a 3.6-acre tidal channel and intertidal pond lined with 1,500 linear feet of artificial oyster reef, enhancement of 0.3 acres of freshwater marsh, and the enhancement of a 1.3-acre upland buffer by removing invasive Brazilian pepper trees and planting native vegetation. Construction was completed in June 2013.

The TPA’s project partners include Southwest Florida Water Management District, Tampa Contracting Services Inc., and Orion Marine Construction Services Inc. for the Eastport Mitigation and McKay Bay dredge hole restoration, and the design team of CH2M-Hill.   

"This is yet another major project that has involved the dedication, vision and talents of a tremendous team of port staff and external partners," said Port Authority President & CEO Paul Anderson. "We work hard to contribute in very significant ways to the integrity and health of Tampa Bay and its delicate natural habitats."

The newly-completed McKay Bay Mitigation Site (MBMS), at the Port of Tampa’s Eastport area, is a very important environmental refurbishment project undertaken by the Tampa Port Authority and its partners. After careful, extensive rehabilitation and construction of new habitat, the area is now a thriving environment for native flora and fauna, including manatees and protected bird species. The MBMS is depicted at right center, while the McKay Bay Dredge Hole is shown just left of center.
Photo/Tampa Port Authority

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