On Friday, residents and officials from numerous agencies gathered to dedicate the completion of a 20-year restoration project at Cockroach Bay. The Cockroach Bay Ecosystem Restoration Project represents one of the largest, most complex ecosystem restoration projects ever developed for Tampa Bay. The 20-year project was initiated and managed by the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Surface Water Improvement and Management Program and the Hillsborough county Parks, Recreation and Conservations Department.
Before the restoration, the area suffered from a number of environmental problems including habitat degradation, invasive plant infestation and poor water quality. Hillsborough County purchased the 500-acre property in 1991. Since that time, 176 tons of garbage have been removed from the site and more than 2,500 volunteers have helped to plant trees and grasses as part of the restoration.
U.S. Congresswoman Kathy Castor and Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman both spoke at a dedication ceremony for the project. “All of you have played a very significant and important role on behalf of this wonderful Tampa Bay project,” Castor said to those in attendance, which included former county commissioner Jan Platt and officials from the Tampa Port Authority that helped to fund the project.
Afterwards, the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary released four rehabilitated seabirds over the restoration area.
Cockroach Bay is open not only to seabirds and other wildlife but also to visitors. It is located at 3709 Gulf City Road in Ruskin.