Public-private project to restore majority of Newman Branch Creek
Second phase of project begins on a coastal creek bordering Tampa Bay
TAMPA, April 28, 2012
Tampa Electric today dedicated the second phase of a unique public-private partnership to help restore and protect critical coastal habitat along Newman Branch Creek in south Hillsborough County.
When the two phases are complete in May, a total of 24 acres of wetlands and rare saltern habitat will be restored near Apollo Beach – which is a majority of the creek system. Today volunteer TECO Energy employees and their families re-planted the parcel with more than 8,000 native marsh grass and upland plants. Tampa Electric owns the property.
The Newman Branch Creek Fisheries Habitat Restoration project is the result of a unique partnership between the Tampa Electric and the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) program. It was the first time the district worked with a private landowner to conduct habitat restoration. The project reflects the scarcity of coastland available for restoration and a growing interest in public-private collaboration to save valuable fish habitat.
Tampa Electric agreed to place the parcel, which is near its Manatee Viewing Center, under a conservation easement to protect the fishery habitat.
Newman Branch Creek was once a meandering stream flanked by lush mangrove forest and salt marsh before it was ditched and channeled over 60 years ago to prevent flooding. Invasive plants moved in, tidal flows were interrupted and vital fisheries habitat was lost.
Construction began in April 2007 to restore freshwater and brackish wetlands at Newman Branch and re-establish the creek’s natural contours. The first phase was completed in June 2007 and was named Environmental Project of the Year from the Hillsborough County Planning Commission in 2009. Construction of the second phase began in March.
The original Newman Branch Creek project was proposed by Ecosphere Restoration Institute Inc., a non-profit collaborative of biologists specializing in habitat restoration and management. Ecosphere also secured funding for the second phase of restoration through grants from SWFWMD, the Gulf of Mexico Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service totaling nearly $200,000.Tampa Electric Company is the principal subsidiary of TECO Energy Inc. (NYSE: TE), an energy-related holding company with regulated utility operations in Florida, including both Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas System . Tampa Electric serves more than 672,000 customers in West Central Florida. Other subsidiaries include TECO Coal, which owns and operates coal production facilities in Kentucky and Virginia, and TECO Guatemala, which is engaged in electric power generation and energy-related businesses in Guatemala.