Port Tampa Bay has struck a historic dredging project with the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the US Fish and Wildlife Commission that looks to protect the nesting of critically endangered shoreline birds.
According to a statement, the partners will build a new 100-acre habitat as part of the Big Bend Channel expansion project.
This will include a new sandy beach which will look to provide attractive nesting and roosting areas and supplement the two already existing 500-acre ‘spoil islands’ that house many shoreline birds displaced from coastal areas due to human activity.
A black skimmer and nesting ground
The ‘spoil islands’ are port-owned bird sanctuaries and were created by dredge materials from harbor management operations and welcomes thousands of migrating birds every year during the nesting season, which lasts from April 1 – August 31.
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The Big Bend Channel expansion construction began in October 2018 and concluded this month. Environmental engineers unloaded 3.4 million cubic yards of dredged materials to create large flat sand/shell expanses and adjacent interior shoreline.
Depositing dredge material makes the shipping channels safe for the passage of large ships, as well as create prime nesting habitat for terns, skimmers, oystercatchers and gulls.
Port Tampa Bay President/CEO Paul Anderson said: “In our long-standing commitment to the environment, we have strived to be a leader in best practices and policy. We will do everything we can to engage our key partners to protect our local wildlife.”