Help protect Cockroach Bay from State’s irresponsible Plan
The Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) is finalizing a 10-year plan that would let nuisance plants like Brazilian pepper take over the Cockroach Bay Preserve State Park, destroying habitat and food sources for the imperiled species who live there, damaging this vital ecosystem of Tampa Bay, and detracting from the value of this public preserve for boaters, fishermen, kayakers, and other visitors—tourists as well as locals.
Please send an email now to tell DEP to take better care of our public lands.
See Sierra Club’s letter for more detail, and feel free to copy the sample letter below.
You can also speak your mind at the Public Workshop:
Wednesday, Nov. 19, 7:00 p.m.
Palmetto City Hall, 516 8th Avenue West, Palmetto, Florida 34221
If you haven’t heard anything about this, it’s because they haven’t told anyone in Hillsborough County, which is where Cockroach Bay is. They only posted the information on their web site and in the Bradenton Herald, in Manatee County, which is where Cockroach Bay isn’t. So the people who are closest to Cockroach Bay have not been notified at all.
Hillsborough County takes good care of our county-owned lands in the Cockroach Bay Preserve. The state-owned part that is the State “Park” (which was much better cared for when it was a “Preserve,” up until 2003) is 615 acres of islands in Cockroach Bay & the mouth of the Little Manatee River.
To: Enid Ehrbar <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Donald Forgione <Donald.Forgione@dep.state.fl.us>,
Valinda Subic <Valinda.Subic@dep.state.fl.us>,
Ana Gibbs <Ana.Gibbs@dep.state.fl.us>,
Kevin Kiser <email@example.com>
Re: Management Plan update for Cockroach Bay Preserve State Park
Dear Enid Ehrbar,
Please include this letter in the record for the Management Plan update for Cockroach Bay Preserve State Park.
The Management Plan’s Objective A (p. 48) is “Annually treat at least 2 acres of exotic plant species in the park.” This is woefully inadequate to bring the invasive species such as Brazilian Pepper under control since, as noted in DEP’s Plan, 24% of the uplands are now covered with exotics and 138 acres are infested. In fact, treating only 2 acres a year is not enough to prevent the infestation from spreading beyond its current level of 24% coverage!
These invasive plants had been brought under control over 10 years ago, and that hard-won success could have been maintained relatively easily. I am dismayed that the public funds and staff time used to achieve that success are being squandered as the invasive plants have been allowed to grow back to destructive levels.
DEP’s Management Plan acknowledges that exotic plant control is necessary for preservation of habitat and food sources for the Park’s wildlife which includes 14 imperiled species such as Gopher Tortoises, Roseate Spoonbills, Black Skimmers, Snowy Egrets and more. It is critical that the spread of invasives is halted now, and quickly brought back down to the level attained over 10 years ago, where it can be maintained economically.
Please change your Plan’s language to reflect a serious intent to fight this threat, and specify effective action that will protect our wildlife and our park from further destruction.
I am also concerned that the citizens and organizations who care about Cockroach Bay have not been given adequate notice and opportunity to participate in the process of updating this 10-year Management Plan. There has been no notice in any news media within Hillsborough County, where Cockroach Bay is located, nor any outreach to the organizations that have historically been involved with this Preserve.
Please extend the time for public comment and provide information about this plan update to the media in our county, and to the parties who have been involved in Cockroach Bay, so that the public has a real opportunity to review and provide input to this Management Plan which will govern our publicly owned Park for the next 10 years.
The location of the Cockroach Bay Plan Workshop, in Manatee County, is inconvenient and inappropriate, since Cockroach Bay is in Hillsborough County. Please hold all future meetings concerning Cockroach Bay in south Hillsborough County, convenient to the most interested citizens.
Your name & address
For more information:
Sierra Club’s letter includes more detail and description of the pertinent issues & objections
DEP’s public notice with links to backup material
Draft Management Plan for Cockroach Bay Preserve State Park
Tampa Tribune Editorial: “Halt Cockroach Bay Invasion”
“The primary issue is the plan’s intent to treat “at least 2 acres of exotic plant species” a year. This is inadequate. … As the Sierra Club’s Mariella Smith told the Tribune’s Mike Salinero, “It’s a plan for failing.” … Smith also rightly faults the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for scarcely publicizing a public hearing on the plan tonight.”
Tampa Tribune article, front page, Tuesday, Nov. 18
[…] See my previous post for the issues involved in the Cockroach Bay Management Plan […]