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Saint Petersblog: Tampa Bay Watch partners with Scotts Miracle-Gro to preserve regional wetlands

Thursday, February 06, 2014

By Phil Ammann

Environmental activists with Tampa Bay Watch are joining lawn and garden-care giant Scotts Miracle-Gro in an educational program that will provide 80,000 salt marsh plants for Florida’s largest estuary.

“Bay Grasses in Classes” will have students from St. Petersburg’s Lakewood High School, along with Tampa Bay Watch staff and Scotts representatives, on hand Thursday to demonstrate habitat restoration activities.

The program’s official launch is 11 a.m. on Thursday at the Tampa Bay Watch headquarters at Fort DeSoto Park, 3000 Pinellas Bayway S., in Tierra Verde.

Tampa Bay Watch’s program has two main goals: educating bay-area youth on environmental stewardship while working to improve Tampa Bay — nearly 400 square miles of open water and 2,300 square miles of highly developed watershed.

For more than two decades, the Pinellas County nonprofit has protected Florida’s largest open water estuary, through preserving the delicate environmental balance of a natural resource that provides residents with both commercial and recreational activities.

Nearly three-quarters of all fish, shellfish, and crustaceans on the planet spend at least part of their lives in the protected waters of estuaries like Tampa Bay, which is among the most diverse and productive ecosystems in the world.

Over much of the 20th Century, dredging and filling projects, along with the commercial and recreational abuse that came from massive population growth and urbanization, radically transformed the Tampa Bay watershed. Tampa Bay Watch employs a combination of education and renovation projects to stem further degradation, improve water quality, stabilize shoreline erosion and lessen greenhouse gas emissions.

The partnership with Scotts is only one of the projects in the organization’s 5-year plan designed to support the waters of Tampa Bay. They include constructing more than 1,000 feet of new oyster reefs and oyster domes yearly, monitor scallop breeding programs to restore populations, support coastal cleanup events and direct abandoned crab trap removal.

Last year, Tampa Bay Watch became one of 22 locations for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Learning in Florida’s Environment (LIFE) program to teach elementary and middle school students about Florida waterways and its wildlife.

Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, based in Marysville, Ohio, has more than $2.8 billion in global sales, making it the world’s largest retailer of lawn and garden products. The company’s brands include Scotts, Miracle-Gro and Ortho, as well as exclusively marketing the Roundup line in North America and parts of Europe.

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