July 2021 – At the River Board’s June meeting, Stephen Raymond, Hillsborough County, and Maya Burke, Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP), discussed the Lower Green Swamp Preserve Hydrologic Improvement and Freshwater Wetland Restoration Project. This project provides benefits to the Hillsborough River as this area is part of the headwaters of the river. Ms. Burke discussed the TBEP Habitat Master Plan and the partners TBEP works with to implement habitat restoration in the Tampa Bay watershed. Currently, TBEP is working with Hillsborough County on ways to achieve their habitat restorations goals listed within the master plan, including the Lower Green Swamp Preserve (LGSP). Located north of Knights Griffin Road and East of Paul Buchman Highway, the LGSP consisted of work on 295+ acres of non-forested wetlands and 87 acres of forested wetlands. Ditch blocks, wet crossings, and overflow sills were installed.
The hydrological restoration and improvement plan has undergone three major phases. Phase 1 happened in 2014, Phase 2 from 2017–2018, and Phase 3 from 2019–2020. For Phase 3, 56 potential sites were identified for improvement. Of the 56, 54 were prioritized for improvement. 16 sites consisted of ditch blocks, over-flow sill, and wet crossings. For Phase 4, they expect to select another group of sites to improve or restore. Continuing restoration and improvement projects consist of a hydrological monitoring project, north pasture streams restorations, Longleaf Pine Savanna restoration/re-introduction, and improved pasture restoration. The county also performs invasive and exotic species control on the property.
More restoration is anticipated in the future as the county plans on at least one project every year. As growth and development continues in the watershed these project are increasingly important to increase natural habitat in the watershed and provide water quality benefits to the Hillsborough River.
Photo Credits: Hillsborough County/Tampa Bay Estuary Program