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Water: 5 Star Wetland Restoration & Grants

Manatee County, Florida


Five-Star Restoration Program Descriptions

Emerson Point Park Five Star Restoration Project
Manatee County, Florida
EPA Region 4

During the summer of 1998, the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners formed a unique partnership to restore wetlands at Emerson Point Park, providing an educational and job-training experience for young people. Emerson Point Park is an ecologically, culturally and historically significant 350-acre peninsula on Tampa Bay hosting at least four distinct native plant communities, but dominated by invasive exotics threatening native habitats.

Start-up funding was provided by an $10,000 Five Star Restoration Partnership grant from the National Association of Counties and EPA Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds. The county program, while strong on goals, did not have equipment needed for planting or transportation for the participants to get from their homes to the work site. Monies from the Five Star grant helped bridge these gaps by funding the purchase of hand tools and other equipment and subsidizing bus transportation.

Manatee County's project was successful due to the talents of project partners including:

the Manatee Community College, which administers the Federal Job Training Partnership Act's Summer Youth Employment Program; the Manatee County School Board; the South West Florida Water Management District; EPA Region IV; Tampa Bay National Estuary Program; Florida Department of Environmental Protection; Manatee River Soil and Water Conservation District (USDA - NRCS); University of Florida Agricultural Extension Service; a local landscape company and volunteers, many of whom chose to work side by side with the young adults to restore the park's wetlands.

Complementing the Five Star grant, project partners contributed additional funding and in-kind services, including wetland construction, technical support and educational instruction, for a total value of $187,000. The twelve young people who participated in the program earned minimum wage salaries to prepare sites and plant native vegetation on six-acres of newly constructed wetlands as part of a 50-acre salt and freshwater wetland restoration effort by the South West Florida Management District and EPA Region IV. The youth's labor was valued at approximately $18,000, and they also received 80 hours of classroom instruction over the six-week program leading to a full high school science credit towards graduation.

The county's community oriented goal was to have the youth participants gain a sense of caring for the land while restoring and creating wetlands where abandoned agricultural fields once existed. The county wanted this stewardship experience to be merged with an understanding of the natural sciences supporting this successful restoration. The sense of stewardship born of this project was carried back to families, friends, and the community at large.

Not surprisingly, all of the team leaders, instructors, and project administrators gained a new appreciation and respect for the work ethic shown by the young people. Because of this enthusiasm, the county wants to work especially hard in the coming years to recreate the experience of Emerson Point for youth at other parks and publicly held conservation lands throughout Manatee County.

EPA Grant Amount: $10,000
Matching Funds: $177,000

Contact Information:
Charlie Hunsicker
Ecosystems Administrator
Manatee County Planning Department
P.O. Box 1000
Bradenton, FL 34206
Phone: (941) 749-3070
Fax: (941) 749-3071
Email: CharlieHunsicker@CO.MANATEE.FL.US

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