ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida is leading the way in restoring estuaries and coastal waterways by using seagrass and clams to help clean the environment.
On June 5, the 2022-2023 budget was signed into law, securing funding that will lead the way in restoring estuaries and growing coastal economies.
$2.5 million has been appropriated to support sustainability and resilience.
The funding will kickstart a five-year research and restoration initiative that will provide for large-scale plantings of clams and seagrass, which will support local businesses and create a natural “macro-laboratory.”
According to a news release, “That will allow researchers to evaluate natural biological mitigation strategies to combat nutrient loading and improve water quality.”
Clams clean the water which allows more light to penetrate encouraging seagrass growth.
Clams and seagrass form a vital part of the marine environment and can stabilize sediments and provide a habitat for other organisms, including the Florida manatee, whose diet depends on seagrass.
Florida shares a border with three estuaries of national significance: Tampa Bay, Charlotte Harbor and Sarasota Bay.
Restoring and maintaining healthy water in these ecosystems is key to community well-being and economic success.
“This project will allow for a large-scale research initiative that utilizes industry expertise, supports local economies and can provide scientists the opportunity to address existing data gaps in situ. It is exciting to see this synergy between industry, researchers, and resource managers, and we are hopeful this work provides the groundwork necessary to better quantify site-specific environmental benefits and guide future efforts,” said Angela Collins of the Gulf Shellfish Institute.
This proof-of-concept project will provide the necessary data for efforts like these to expand throughout Florida and beyond.
©2022 Cox Media Group