Developing Florida Bay Seagrass Habitat Restoration Management Plan
UPDATE October 17, 2013: Due to the federal government shutdown between October 1 and 16, the public comment period has been extended through Friday, October 25, 2013.
Enhancing marine resource stewardship in Florida Bay - Draft Florida Bay Seagrass Habitat Restoration Plan
Project Purpose: Develop an integrated plan to assess natural, cultural and wilderness resource damage in Florida Bay that result from vessel operations and establish protocols to restore seagrass and benthic resources.
Each year, thousands of boats visit Florida Bay, a submerged wilderness area which supports extensive areas of seagrass habitat and potentially contains submerged cultural resources. The shallow nature of the Bay makes it vulnerable to vessel groundings and propeller scarring damage, which has been occurring with increased regularity over the years.
Recovery of natural resources from minor injuries occur over time from natural processes, but large individual injuries or areas with extensive repeated and cumulative injuries could take decades without management action/intervention. When damage is extensive, recovery of the natural quality of wilderness as well as the important habitat that seagrass supports is dependent on active restoration. These include activities to restore bathymetric contours, stabilization of injury sites, replacement of seagrass, and post-restoration protective measures.
This programmatic plan will allow park managers to organize and efficiently carry out resource restoration activities to protect these important park resources. Programmatic environmental compliance requirements have been included on the plan to cover a broad range of projects and protocols for more complex project are identified. This plan provides management guidance and strategies for addressing boat groundings and other areas damaged by propeller scars or other activities impacting resources, with an emphasis on seagrass and benthic restoration.
Project Description: The project consists of developing a programmatic seagrass restoration plan for Florida Bay, to facilitate participation of volunteers (for simpler projects), and agency, non-governmental organizations (NGO) stewardship of seagrass resources in Florida Bay.
The plan will identify "hot spot" (high priority) areas using ENP technical reports, existing aerial photography, law enforcement reports, and existing GIS data. Prioritization will be based on where restoration needs are highest for future restoration activities. The plan will include NEPA compliance and establish standard operating procedures for restoration and monitoring of benthic resources. These efforts will increase the ease with which the public, through volunteer efforts, could take on restoration activities within the Bay. The project also includes coordination and oversight of activities currently in the 19jj damage recovery process that is managed under the National Park System Resource Protection Act.
Fred Herling, Park Planner (email@example.com, 305-242-7704)