The two primary mechanisms for raising public awareness about the aquatic preserve’s resources are placing informational signage at access points and providing resource displays at public events. In addition to the information provided directly, these two mechanisms also provide opportunities for linking resource interests to other on-site and online information.
The difficulty of maintaining kiosks and other informational structures at access points, particularly at the Cockroach Bay Road boat ramp, makes on-site education a challenge. To avoid damage from carelessness and vandalism, Tampa Bay Aquatic Preserves (TBAP) moved a large wooden kiosk – which had been located near the boat ramp for several years – to a site approximately one mile away, where it is more secure, but its information does not reach as much of the target audience.
TBAP plans to construct a new kiosk at Cockroach Bay Road ramp, using reinforced concrete and other vandal-resistant materials and design features within three years. This kiosk will be shared with the county staff and Florida Park Service.
If TBAP staff and program resources increase, a priority is to re-engage local citizens and others who use the aquatic preserve’s resources with an updated portable display to be used at regional events. This not only allows for direct education of the public on conservation issues and needs, but it also provides for direct feedback from the community of resource users.
TBAP also seeks to facilitate access to the resources by kayakers, canoeists and operators of other non-motorized vessels. Because Hillsborough County owns the land where most launching occurs, any initiatives to address this objective should be pursued in partnership with the appropriate county programs. Staff will work to identify potential launch sites and amenities that would make launching and loading of non-motorized vessels more convenient. Staff will also work with county staff to maintain existing markers on the Snook and Horseshoe Crab paddling trails, and post coordinates for online “virtual trails” for those trails.
In addition, staff will map a paddling route from Highway 301 to a point near the mouth of the Little Manatee River and post the coordinates online. This trail would not be marked with physical markers, as the program does not have the resources to maintain the markers.
Staff will also work to reduce the level of seagrass scarring and other impacts. A part of this effort will be posting resource information at access points, including aerial photos of local seagrass scarring intensity, as well as information about seagrass protection rules at aquatic-preserve access points. A second objective is to reduce the amount of seagrass scarring at “hot spots” by identifying them and posting appropriate signage. TBAP will also work with county staff to host public meetings to find strategies to reduce present scarring levels.
February 10, 2020 - 3:25pm
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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.