Ten acres at the Richard T. Paul Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary Critical Wildlife Area, which is leased from and managed in collaboration with the Mosaic Company and Port Tampa Bay, were re-treated for invasive vegetation control through the careful cutting and application of herbicide by Audubon’s contractor, Stantec. Volunteers planted native shrubs and trees, removed entangling debris and trash, and pulled weeds that threatened to outcompete the newly planted natives. In total, they placed 1,200 native plants to begin recolonizing these areas with desirable native species that colonial waterbirds need for nesting. This work has been supported by the Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County’s Pollution Recovery Fund, Restore America’s Estuaries Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund grants, the Founders Garden Circle, and individual donors.
Habitat restoration continues on the upland portion of the island, where an invasive monoculture of Brazilian pepper was removed in previous years. Since the initial vegetation removal, Audubon and dedicated volunteers have worked to keep nonnative plants at bay, giving native shrubs and trees like sea grape, buttonwood, and mangroves a chance to establish and provide nesting habitat for the birds. Wading birds are utilizing this site during the 2022 nesting season.
Article first appeared in the Coastal Report. Click here to read full report.