Letter to Submit
Support for the Egmont Key Restoration and Storm Damage Reduction proposal from US Army Corps of Engineers
I am a member of the Friends of the Tampa Bay National Wildlife Refuges (FTBNWR) who supports the proposal from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers submitted for Egmont Key Restoration and Storm Damage Reduction for RESTORE funding.
Egmont Key NWR is a very important island for wildlife at the mouth of Tampa Bay. Because it is a National Wildlife Refuge it is protected and a very successful location for over 30,000 pairs of birds to nest and rest.
It also hosts nesting for Loggerhead and other sea turtles. Gopher and Box Turtles also call the island home. Erosion has been chipping away at these habitats.
Birds are more crowded and sea turtles encounter huge escarpments which hinder nesting. Baby birds can fall off the same escarpments and drown.
The same fate can befall the Gopher and Box Turtles who wander too close to the edge.
The highly populated Tampa Bay area has no other habitats that work as well for these animals.
The Seminole Tribe has a deep connection to Egmont Key. There are still some members of its tribe buried on Egmont from the time of the Trail of Tears. Historic Fort Dade also is located on Egmont. Erosion has claimed three of its batteries and the remaining three are vulnerable to ruin without periodic sand replacement. The U.S. Army Corp proposal includes structure that will better protect the remaining batteries as well as sand placement.
The public is able to visit Egmont Key in the public use areas where they can spend the day on a beautiful beach (quickly eroding away), tour Fort Dade, see amazing wildlife, and learn about nature. The restoration project will provide ongoing recreational and educational opportunities for the public.
This important island will benefit greatly from the proposed project. I support this project and urge you to choose it as one of the RESTORE Act projects that are funded.
Thanks for your support!
NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE AND STATE PARK
Friends of the Tampa Bay National Wildlife Refuges promote conservation, awareness, and appreciation of the Refuge Complex and provide assistance to the mission and programs of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the world’s premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants.
In Tampa Bay, we are fortunate to have three National Wildlife Refuges: Egmont Key, Passage Key, and the Pinellas Refuges. The Refuges’ natural areas provide prime habitat for migratory and beach nesting birds to safely “nest and rest” free from human interference. At Egmont Key, increasing numbers of sea turtles also find suitable and secure habitat for laying their eggs each breeding season, and a large and growing population of gopher tortoises safely move about the island, constructing burrows that protect them and many other species during severe storms.
As Friends of the Tampa Bay National Wildlife Refuges, we:
- Encourage membership through opportunities that support the efforts of the Fish and Wildlife Service at the Tampa Bay Refuges.
- Raise money to fund conservation, preservation, and educational projects in support of the Tampa Bay Refuges and the National Refuge System.
- Provide environmental education programs to elementary age students that takes them out of the classroom and into the school yard where they learn to relate conservation and sustainability concepts to their daily environment.
- Sponsor periodic Refuge clean-ups of exotic plants, debris, and mono-filament that are damaging to wildlife and habitat.
- Offer public educational programs on conservation and preservation topics, the Tampa Bay Refuges, and the national Refuge System.
- Provide bird stewards at Egmont Key who monitor secured areas and ensure that birds can safely nest and rest during periods of high boater visitation to the island.
- Survey nesting and resting birds at the Pinellas Refuges each month to measure changes in population and evaluate effectiveness of conservation programs.