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News Release

The Florida Aquarium, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Tampa Electric Hold a Historic Groundbreaking Ceremony

TAMPA, January 10, 2013

The Florida Aquarium (FLAQ), The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Tampa Electric held a historic groundbreaking -- or, more accurately, ground planting – ceremony today to kick off the development of a Florida conservation and technology park.

The ceremony was held in the park at the future location of The Florida Aquarium’s Center for Conservation and incorporated a unique ceremonial planting of over more than 3,000 native wetland plants by more than 75 volunteers. Approximately 50 children from a local environmental magnet program at Dowdell Middle School participated in the effort.

The pond where the ceremony was held is one of three planned for the area. The ponds will be used as a natural filtration process of the park’s recycled water as well as a wetlands plant propagation farm that will supply the state with plants critical to the ecological development and sustainment of Florida’s wetland environment.

“This project is so much more than a park, it is a critical educational and environmental resource for our state and community”, said Thom Stork, president and CEO of The Florida Aquarium. “The type of work that will be done here will not only expand the reach of The Florida Aquarium’s mission but it will have a monumental and immediate impact on our environment, our community and our state. We are honored to be a part of this unique and innovative project and are thrilled to be planting the seeds today that promise to grow and strengthen our environment for generations to come.”

Included in The Florida Aquarium’s Center for Conservation, the park will feature a Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network’s (FYCCN) educational facility, incorporating interpretative walking and kayak trails and saltwater hatchery and youth fishing programs run by the FWC.

“It is an honor to be a part of this effort that will provide unique opportunities for young people to experience and appreciate Florida’s fish and wildlife resources,” said Chairman Kenneth Wright. “The mission of this partnership goes hand in hand with our FYCCN, creating the next generation that cares.”

The park, which will be built near Tampa Electric’s existing Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach, is estimated to be completed in three to five years. Guests can already see some of the changes beginning with the Manatee Viewing Center’s paved parking lot and new overlook deck as well as new walking trials, which will be open to the public starting this month. Admission and parking will be free.

“This unique blend of environmental education and cutting-edge energy technology will become a year-round destination for Florida visitors,” said Tom Hernandez, Tampa Electric’s vice president of Energy Supply. “It will complement the award-winning Manatee Viewing Center and will become a showcase the whole community can enjoy.”

While the details and final timeline of the entire park are still being finalized, the partnership’s vision is clearly focused on demonstrating the potential for technology and nature to work together harmoniously for the greater good of the community and the state.

Some of the highlights of the park include:

  • The Energy Technology Center
  • Center for Conservation
  • Camps and Educational Facility
  • Animal Rescue, Research and Holding Facility
  • Saltwater Fish Hatchery Interpretive Trails
  • Catch and Release Fishing Programs

About The Florida Aquarium

The Florida Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit institution whose mission is to entertain, educate and inspire stewardship about our natural environment. It is ranked as one of the best aquariums in the country and “top 5 kid-friendly aquariums” by Parents Magazine.

About FWC

The mission of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is to manage fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people. The FWC protects and manages over 575 species of wildlife and more than 200 native species of freshwater fish and 500 native species of saltwater fish

About Tampa Electric

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 nearly 676,000 customers in West Central Florida. TECO Energy’s other major subsidiary, TECO Coal, owns and operates coal production facilities in Kentucky and Virginia.

Media Contact
For journalist inquiries only:

TECO Energy, Tampa Electric, Peoples Gas
TECO Energy, Inc.
702 N. Franklin Street
Tampa, Florida 33602
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