Habitat Restoration

Conservation/Habitat Restoration

CCA recently teamed up with the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the Marine Discovery Center (MDC) on an Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program (IRLNEP) grant application. Of the 17 submittals to the IRLNEP, the UCF grant application ranked No. 1 overall and was awarded $82,770 for their ongoing project titled, “Living Shoreline and Oyster Reef Restoration in Mosquito Lagoon: Continuation of Successful Model and Successful Partnerships.” CCA also contributed a $5,000 in-kind match to the grant, bringing the total project funding to $169,825. Dr. Linda Walter’s (UCF Pegasus Professor of Biology) lab is recognized as a global leader in the field of oyster reef restoration and living shoreline stabilization. She and her many students advise and participate in restoration efforts around the state and the globe. To be most engaged and productive, the team selects projects strategically, where the impact on the science and community, including thousands of central Florida K-12 and UCF students, will be the greatest. Dr. Walters’ vision of academic and research excellence has developed a legacy program at UCF - one of the longest, most productive oyster reef restoration projects in the USA (12+ years, 77 reefs restored, habitat created for 12 million+ oysters). Research and restoration in the lab additionally includes “living shoreline” stabilization of numerous, priceless cultural sites in Florida (shell middens, historic buildings) for over 2000 meters of shoreline, including numerous sites within Canaveral National Seashore (Eldora House, Turtle Mound, Oyster Bay, etc.), Fort Mose State Historic Site (St. Augustine, FL) and De Soto National Memorial (near Bradenton, FL).
Tampa Bay Watch is recruiting volunteer boaters to remove abandoned crab traps from the bay during the temporary closure of blue crab fishery on Saturday, July 15. In Tampa Bay, it is estimated that there are hundreds of abandoned crab traps that have been accumulating in the water for decades. The temporary closure is a unique opportunity that only happens once every two years. It allows us to go out and remove any trap from the water because during the closed season, all blue and stone crab traps are considered derelict. Not just anyone can remove a trap. If you are interested in being involved, you must be a part of an organized effort that has been authorized by FWC such as our event on July 15.

Derelict crab traps are a problem for several reasons: they continue to ghost fish (fishing that continues despite the inactivity of the trap) killing not only the crabs but several other recreationally and commercially important species. They also pose a navigational hazard to boaters and can cause damage to valuable and sensitive habitats such as seagrass. Manatees, dolphins and sea turtles can also become entangled in the trap line causing injury or death.  

Please let us know if you know of an area where there are a lot of derelict crabtraps so we can arrange to take care of them during the closure. 

We are partnering with ReelCycle who will pick up all of the traps from each location and recycle all of the trap material.

Who: Anyone with a boat that is willing to help remove abandoned traps from the waters. Tampa Bay Watch will provide tarps, but your boat will get dirty.  A limited number of spots may be available for participants that do not have boats (this will be on a waiting list basis).

When: Saturday, July 15 from 9am to noon

Where: We are recruiting volunteers for six different locations throughout the bay, so you can choose which location you would prefer to participate. The locations are:

  • Belleair Causeway boat ramp in Belleair Bluffs
  • Upper Tampa Bay at Courtney Campbell Causeway boat ramp
  • Alafia River at Williams Park boat ramp
  • We already have enough boats at Fort De Soto Park, Demen's Landing & Cockroach Bay boat ramp 

Click here to register for the project! 

Mark your calendar and plan to join CCA Florida and the UCF Biology Department this summer for several habitat restoration project opportunities in Mosquito Lagoon!
 
Join us in assisting Dr. Linda Walters with the department’s ongoing habitat restoration program in the Lagoon.  Projects like these are leading to progressive improvements in water quality and are helping to protect and restore our state’s marine habitats for the future.  Be a part of great work!  Dates include:
 
June 1, 2, 4, 5, 12, 13, 15 + 16
July 6, 7, 8 + 9
 
Opportunities include oyster restoration and reef leveling, transporting supplies, mat deployments or transporting volunteers to and from the site.
 
Interested in joining us?  Contact Frank Gidus (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) for additional information, directions and to RSVP.  Bring your hat, sunscreen and gloves, wear closed toe shoes and bring plenty of water.  We look forward to seeing you!            
 
Dr. Walters’ vision of academic and research excellence has developed a legacy program at UCF - one of the longest, most productive oyster reef restoration projects in the USA (12+ years, 77 reefs restored, habitat created for 12 million+ oysters).  Research and restoration in the lab additionally includes “living shoreline” stabilization of numerous, priceless cultural sites in Florida (shell middens, historic buildings) for over 2000 meters of shoreline, including numerous sites within Canaveral National Seashore (Eldora House, Turtle Mound, Oyster Bay, etc.), Fort Mose State Historic Site (St. Augustine, FL) and De Soto National Memorial (near Bradenton, FL). Knowing that citizen education and engagement are essential to restoration success, this team has engaged over 57,000 volunteers to date (including over fifty preK-12 schools in 6 central Florida counties).
For the Love of Florida
 
Most Floridians understand the importance of coastal habitat restoration. But did you know what a difference these projects are making in our state?  And how joint efforts by various conservation groups and volunteers are protecting and restoring Florida’s marine habitat for the future?
 
Check out the latest in CCA Florida habitat restoration projects and the progress we’re making with partner conservation groups. Thanks to our friend C.A. Richardson of Flats Class for helping share our story!
 
Help us spread the word by sharing this video, or supporting the Building Conservation Trust, CCA’s national habitat funding program.  Not a CCA member? Join now to make a difference.

For more than a decade, CCA Florida and hundreds of local CCA chapter members have contributed thousands of volunteer hours and acquired funding to help restore Florida's fragile marine habitat.  Volunteers have contributed to offshore and nearshore reef development, oyster reef restoration, shoreline stabilization, and planted literally hundreds of acres of saltmarsh, seagrass beds and mangroves.  Many of these projects were partially or wholly funded through foundation grants acquired by CCA Florida, CCA National’s Building Conservation Trust (BCT) Fund, and from donations by local CCA chapters and generous individual members.



Because of the importance of habitat and water quality to our fisheries, CCA Florida continues to substantially increase its role in the area of habitat restoration in Florida.  With the increasing degraded water quality issues we are all facing around the state, it is critical that restoration projects continue and at a faster pace.  Habitat restoration projects are effective in improving water quality as well as providing new habitat for fish and other important marine life.  Take a look at the projects listed below, along with the email address for the CCA volunteer that is coordinating the project, and send that volunteer a note if you would like to get involved.  You can also contact Frank Gidus if you have an idea for a habitat project or concerns about environmental issues impacting Florida fisheries at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Chapter: South Palm Beach

Contact: Scott Harris, J.D. Dickenson

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Marine fisheries and recreational angling off the coast of Jupiter, Florida, recently got a yet another boost with the placement of 100 artificial reef modules on August 8 and 9, 2016.  The modules are made of three different designs to create a new 600 feet long by 100 feet wide reef located 1.5 miles northeast of Jupiter Inlet.  The new reef is comprised of 50 eight foot tall limestone rock encrusted concrete pyramids, 35 seven foot tall Bahamian coral head replicas and 15 unique concrete block structures.  

No Shoes Reefs Project, the partnership between Building Conservation Trust (BCT), CCA’s National Habitat Program, Country Superstar Kenny Chesney and ENGEL Coolers have contributed to the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation, for phase two of the Andrew “Red” Harris No Shoes Reef.  BCT Executive Director Sean Stone said on Monday, “The Andrew “Red” Harris No Shoes Reef is a great example of what the power of partnerships can do when deciding how to best bring awareness to ocean conservation and habitat through artificial reefs.  The No Shoes Reefs Project brings needed dollars along with national awareness through our social channels with our partners.”
Like the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation Reef deployed last year, this new reef site is expected to positively impact local economies by enticing anglers and divers who utilize local boat charters, hotels, restaurants and other amenities.

 

Red-Harris-Reef-02 Red-Harris-Reef-03

Association (SWARA)
Chapter: South Walton
Contact: Andy McAlexander
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Andy McAlexander from the South Walton Chapter set up a non-profit association to build reefs and oyster habitat restoration projects along the gulf shores of Walton County in the Panhandle.  On July 10, 2015 the South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA) deployed the first half of 58 artificial reef structures off of Grayton Beach State Park.  This is the first of several snorkel and fishing reefs planned that will span across south Walton County.  The completion of this reef is set for the end of September or early October 2015.  An additional 684 structures will also be deployed sometime in 2016.


SWARA has plans for multiple oyster habitat projects and near shore snorkeling and fishing reefs. The long term goal of SWARA is to improve the water quality, increase tourism and enhance the lifestyle of the local residents and visitors.  SWARA is working on some local funding to get the projects off the ground with the majority of the funds coming from BP monies set aside from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. SWARA has ambitious plans for the area and will be a huge asset for CCA in the Panhandle for years to come.

Chapter: Tampa
Contact: Don Roberts
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Tampa Bay Watch, in partnership with the Florida Aquarium and CCA Florida, will be moving forward with a shoreline stabilization project that will allow the creation of new oyster dome and oyster bar habitat along the southern shoreline of Fantasy Island.  The oyster dome field and oyster shell bar have been designed to help stabilize approximately 700’ of severely eroding shoreline, provide hard bottom habitats for fish and wildlife resources and promote water quality improvements in the Tampa Bay ecosystem.  CCA Florida received a generous matching challenge grant award from the Duckwall Foundation for $25,000. On April 11, 2016 Tampa Bay Watch received $75,000 from CCA Florida, the Building Conservation Trust, and the Duckwall Foundation to sponsor the construction and community involvement of the Fantasy Island Project.

This project involves the placement of 1,080 oyster domes and approximately 41.5 tons of fossilized shell along the southern shoreline of the island.  Placed Lo-Pro Reef Ball™ units will provide wave attenuation to assist with erosion control and to provide habitat for marine life.  These reef balls are well suited for the establishment of oysters that are common along the Fantasy Island shoreline and throughout Tampa Bay.  Placing the Lo-Pro’s in approximately two feet of water will allow the units to be mostly exposed during low tide and totally submerged at high tide; conditions which are optimum for oysters in Tampa Bay.  Reef ball units will create habitat by encouraging oysters and other filter feeders to attach.  The oyster dome placement will occur after the oyster shell bar has been built so as to minimize and safety issues and disturbance to the habitat.  The project is scheduled for deployment in the fall 2016.

Tampa-Bay Fantasy-Island

Chapter: Tampa


Contact: Don Roberts


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Tampa Bay Watch, in partnership with the NOAA Restoration Center and the Port of Tampa Bay, is proposing a community-based oyster creation project to install approximately 12,100 square feet (0.27 ac) of new oyster reef communities on the eastern shoreline of Spoil Island 2D in Tampa Bay, Florida.  The Building Conservation Trust has committed $25,000 to Tampa Bay Watch to work with the local chapters of CCA and other youth and adult community volunteers to construct the new oyster reefs in Tampa Bay.  The 2-D island is located just north of the Fantasy Island oyster restoration project.

 Tampa-Bay-2D No.-1 Tampa-Bay-2D No.-2

Chapter: Tampa
Contact: Don Roberts
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CCA Florida and the Lee County Department of Natural Resources partnered to deploy the USCGC Mohawk to its final resting place. The 165-foot World War II Coast Guard Cutter, "Mohawk" was the last remaining ship of the Battle of the Atlantic.  The Mohawk was laid to rest in 90 feet of water on July 2, 2012 approximately 28 nautical miles off of Sanibel Island on Florida’s southwest coast, creating the first Veterans Memorial Reef dedicated to all U.S. veterans.



CCA Florida chartered the 90’ "Great Getaway" that transported over 100 passengers to the deployment site. The passengers included USCG 2nd Class Petty Officer Edward March who served on the Mohawk for 15 months during WWII, his family, local veterans, members of the media, local and state dignitaries and elected officials as well as CCA members from across the state of Florida. The Mohawk was laid to rest with a fresh coat of wartime camouflage paint along with her anchor chains, props, replica guns, replica depth charges and even a new whale boat was added. The official name of the reef is the U.S.S. Mohawk CGC Veterans Memorial Reef and the coordinates are 82°43'42.347"W, 26°33'14.64"N.

Chapter: South Palm Beach
Contact: J.D. Dickenson
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The Goggle Eye Reef was once a productive reef that was completely smothered by sand 10 to 15 years ago.  On September 15, 2015, about 700 tons of limestone boulders and scrap concrete were dumped into the ocean about a half-mile northeast of the Boynton Beach Inlet in an effort to rebuild the natural reef that had been degraded by years storms and shifting sand.  Workers on a tugboat and a 200-foot barge spent most of the day at the reef site.  J.D. Dickenson of the South Palm Beach chapter of the CCA Florida, which spearheaded the project, and Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management engineers monitored the reef construction.  CCA Florida raised $85,000 in grants and donations to build the reef, which will provide ideal habitats for fish on the natural limestone Goggle Eye Reef, which was covered by sand.



Most of the money for the project came from the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, which contributed $55,000, and Impact 100, which awarded grants totalling $17,000. The project also received funding from CCA’s Building Conservation Trust Fund, the Merrill G. and Emita E. Hastings Foundation, and many individual contributors.  Eventually the reef will recruit sea fans and live corals and is expected to attract as many as 60 species of fish.  Near shore artificial reefs are badly needed in South Palm Beach County as many natural reefs have been eroded and covered by sand.  There are more inlets in the southern part of the county coastline and more beach renourishment projects, both of which contribute to natural reef systems being buried by shifting sands.

Chapter: South Palm Beach
Contact: Scott Harris, J.D. Dickenson
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Marine fisheries and recreational angling off the coast of Jupiter, Florida, recently got a boost with the placement of 40 artificial reef cells in 88 feet of water in August 2015.  The CCA Building Conservation Trust contributed $25,000 to the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation for the project, which utilized innovative reefing materials to create a thriving new ecosystem. The site for the project off Jupiter is currently flat, featureless sand plains near the existing Zion Train, Miss Jenny and ESSO Bonaire “Wreck Trek.”  The new reef cells rise up to eight feet off the sea floor and create interconnected cavities and surfaces exposed to sunlight and water current.  The structures are designed to provide a specific habitat environment favored by a wide range of marine organisms so that where there is now only flat sand, a flourishing ecosystem will develop.



The new reef site is expected to positively impact local economies by enticing anglers and divers who utilize local boat charters, hotels, restaurants and other amenities. According to Alan Richardson, chairman of the Organization for Artificial Reefs based in Tallahassee, Florida, for every dollar spent locally on an artificial reef, $138 comes back into local communities.  In addition to the Building Conservation Trust, the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation is partnering on the $78,000 project with Palm Beach County, the Town of Jupiter, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Palm Beach County Fishing Foundation, REEF CELLS and Jupiter Dive Center.

Chapter: Treasure Coast
Contact: Capt. Paul Dritenbas
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The Treasure Coast Chapter of CCA continues to work with the Vero Beach Rotary Club on several projects on the Mooring Flats in the Indian River.  Paul Dritenbas, an architect, fishing guide, Rotarian and unwavering CCA volunteer, is leading an effort called Rotary Initiative for Submerged Seagrass Awareness (RISSA) that now surround the grass flats with a ring of buoys and warning signs to protect it from damage by powerboats.  

The first phase of the project consisted of placing 24 large, floating buoys labeled, “Caution Seagrass Area” around the Moorings Flats.  The second phase consisted of surrounding an existing 400 square foot oyster bar on the Moorings Flats with approximately 1,200 16” x 16” black poly mesh oyster mats.  The 1,200 mats enlarged the oyster bar area to approximately 2,500 square feet.

A total of three additional oyster restoration sites named CCA #1, CCA #2 and CCA #3 were also permitted and approved for deployment.  CCA #1 was permitted in March of 2014 and with the help of many volunteers the oyster mats were installed in April 2014.  A total of 912 mats containing over 1,600 square feet were successfully deployed.  The site location was strategically placed in an idle speed area along a tidal spit between two spoil islands in St. Lucie County.  

The CCA #2 oyster reef was deployed on May 7, 2016 and consists of 1,020 oyster mats located in the Indian River on the northwest side or Spoil Island IR26, northeast of Loggerhead Marina and west of the Johns Island subdivision.  The 1,020 oyster mats contain an area of approximately 1,800 square feet.  Over 50 volunteers participated and included the CCA Treasure Coast Chapter, the Rotary Club Vero Beach Sunrise, the Vero Beach Power Squadron, the Walking Tree Brewery, and the Indian River High School Girls & Boys Rowing Team.   Oyster spat traps were deployed at 3 additional locations for the future deployment of a new, permitted CCA #3 oyster reef.  The deployment for CCA #3 is tentatively scheduled for the fall 2016 or spring 2017.   To date, CCA Florida has donated almost $18,000 to this habitat restoration project!

Chapter: Orlando
Contact: Greg Harrison
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On August 7, 2015, twenty-four “Florida limestone” modules were deployed east of the popular 8A reef off the Brevard coast.  The modules are made of concrete and natural stone intended to attract marine growth as quickly as possible.  At 8 feet tall and with a 10-foot triangular base, each module boasts over 367 square feet of surface area.  The reef was deployed in a 4-by-6 grid with 20 feet between each module and weighed in at over 72 tons of material.



Thanks to CCA Orlando life member Greg Harrison working with Matt C. Culver, Boating & Waterways Program coordinator for the Brevard County Natural Resources Management Department, the project was a huge success.   Unlike many permits that only cover a small area, the permit for this reef covers an area of nearly 4 square miles.  With the permitting already approved, adding to this reef should be more streamlined and less expensive in the future.

Chapter: Orlando
Contact: Greg Harrison
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Since 2008, CCA Orlando life member Greg Harrison CCA Florida has been partnering with the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the Brevard Zoo on several oyster restoration and shoreline stabilization projects in the Mosquito Lagoon.  Greg was instrumental in getting many volunteers to assist over the years with what is quickly becoming Florida’s and the nation’s most publicized habitat project.   To date, the number of volunteers on this project total 44,563 for oyster restoration and 7,270 for living shorelines.   That’s an amazing total of 51,833 volunteers to date!  

Led by Dr. Linda Walters, a UCF biological sciences professor, over 43,000 deployed oyster mats have restored on 77 oyster reefs, covering a footprint area of 2.20 acres in Mosquito Lagoon. The mats on the restored reefs are maintaining their structure and are not being dislodged by boat wakes.  Analysis of the monitoring data over the past eight years shows that, to date, this methodology that couples dead margin leveling with placement of oyster mats on the leveled shell material is exceeding all structural and functional monitoring plan objectives.  On restored reefs: 1) no dead margins have reformed, 2) recruitment of oysters on 2007 mats continues to increase and is now an average of 235.9 live oysters per mat (0.25 m2) or 943.6 live oysters per square meter, 3) recruitment continued to occur during 2 years with brown tide (Aureoumbra lagunensis) blooms, and 4) seagrass recruited seaward of 21 of 73 (28.8%) reefs restored between 2007 and 2015.  If you multiply the mean recruitment value for 2007 reefs by the number of mats deployed, this project has supplied substrate at the appropriate lagoon depths to potentially restore over 10,204,798 oysters to the waters of Mosquito Lagoon. Overall, this project has been exceptionally successful in terms of oyster recruitment, habitat improvement, and community engagement.  This is an ongoing project in which additional funding and volunteers are needed for future oyster restoration and shoreline stabilization projects!

Chapter: Jacksonville
Contact: Peyton Scheppe
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CCA Florida assisted with the splash down of two new fishing reefs less than half a mile from the I-95 Bridge over the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville in 2014.  The total cost of the project was $60,000 and the Jacksonville Chapter of CCA Florida raised 50 percent of the necessary funding. The Building Conservation Trust, CCA’s national habitat program, garnered support from country music star Kenny Chesney and Costa Sunglasses among others for donations for the remaining $30,000 to the project.  Named the Coastal Conservation Association and George Holt Reefs, the man-made reefs were designed to promote quality of aquatic life.  They were built through the support of Kenny Chesney’s ongoing partnership with Costa Del Mar Sunglasses and the CCA Building Conservation Trust.  An east Tennessee songwriter/superstar, Chesney visited the completed reefs in June 2015.

Thirteen hundred tons of concrete were used to create the two reefs. In total, 18 barge loads were needed to carry the material to the two designated reef sites.  Each reef measures 200 feet by 200 feet, and each was built in a two-week time frame to minimize disruption.  The effort attracted widespread support including the City of Jacksonville, who embraced the idea and handled all the permitting requirements for the reefs.  Among the volunteers working for the habitat enhancement is the former chairman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Kathy Barco.


Chapter: Martin/St. Lucie

Contact: Frank Gidus

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CCA Florida partnered with the Florida Oceanographic Society (FOS) to create oyster habitat and to restore seagrass in the Indian River in Martin County, Florida.  The first phase of the project, which deployed on April 29-30, 2016, consisted of deploying 1200 bags of shell (average weight of 10lbs. each) across both days (300 on 4/29 and 900 on 4/30). The areal footprint of the reefs was approximately 600 sq. ft. (150 sq. ft. per site).  The project is located at four sites (known as LS-01, LS-03, LS-04 and LS-05), within the Indian River, a Class III water, Outstanding Florida Waterbody, Jensen Beach to Jupiter Inlet Aquatic Preserve.  

A total 1,410 sq. ft. of shoal grass (Halodule wrightii) was planted at the four sites on May 25, 2016. 100 mats of seagrass, each containing an average of 16 shoots for a total of at least 1600 shoots, were planted.  These oyster reef and seagrass planting activities have resulted in 4,460 square feet (0.10 acres) of restoration work in the Indian River.

 

Chapter: Big Bend

Contact: Bill Mickler

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Only July 28, 2016, CCA Florida, CCA Music City Chapter, and CCA’s Building Conservation Trust (BCT) partnered with the Organization for Artificial Reefs, Inc. (OAR) to deploy Billy’s Barge to its final resting place on the Carrabelle 10 Mile Reef system.  The reef was named after Billy Solberger, a longtime OAR Board and Research Dive Team member.  We were honored to have the Solberger family, including Billy’s sister and children, on hand to witness the deployment.

The 110-foot barge was from the 1997 adventure horror film "Anaconda"!  The GPS coordinates for the wheelhouse, which is visible from the surface, are 29 39.653/ 84 30.008.  This new reef development will provide hard-bottom habitat enhancement for reef community fish and provide additional recreational fishing and diving opportunities. This reef will also provide valuable forage and protection for various species of fish migrating from inshore nurseries further offshore. The existing Carrabelle 10 Mile reef already has various structures including many placed there on previous projects as memorials to several young men who grew up and fished these waters but died young.  Funding partners include BCT ($25,000), CCA Florida ($8,500), and OAR ($22,000) for a total of $55,500.

 

Chapter: Manatee

Contact: Brian Gorski, CCA Florida

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FWC partnered with TECO and the Florida Aquarium to create the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center (SYCC) located in Apollo Beach, Florida on the shores of Tampa Bay.  A 6,000 square foot building will include indoor and outdoor classroom space is being built as an educational hub for the Florida Conservation and Technology Center. The SYCC will be the newest and only marine-focused center that is part of our much larger statewide network of youth conservation centers.

CCA FL assisted with the funding and placement of the materials for the new FWC saltwater pond at the facility.  We also received donations from the attendees at the Manatee County Banquet to go towards the project and offset our expense.   There will also be a sign at the pond recognizing CCA Florida’s contribution along with our logo.
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