United States
                           Environmental Protection
              Office of Water
June 1997
                           Demonstrating Practical Tools for Watershed
                           Management Through the National Estuary Program

     The Sarasota Bay watershed comprises about 150 square miles of land*
      and 52 square miles of water surface.

     Nearly 500,000 people live in the Sarasota Bay area.

     Land use in the watershed is 42 percent residential, 10 percent
      commercial, 8 percent agricultural, and 40 percent open space.

  rThe Problem:
     Wetland loss, including encroachment of non-native plant species, is
      one of the major problems threatening Sarasota Bay.

     Since 1950, the Sarasota Bay watershed has lost 39% of its intertidal
      habitat.  Freshwater and non-forested wetlands have also declined    >:
      dramatically, more than 45% in the past 20 years.

     Only 20 percent of the shoreline remains in its natural state.

     Non-native plants have invaded 66% of mangrove wetlands in the bay.

  ferhe Project:

   The Coquina BayWalk at Leffis Key Restoration Project was designed to create native habitat on 30 acres of public land.
   Project objectives also included improving water quality, increasing public access to the bay, and providing opportunities for
   public education and participation.
              Sarasota Bay
  The National Estuary Prografti
       1stuaries and other coastal and marine waters are national
        resources that are increasingly threatened by pollution, habitat
        loss, coastal development, and resource conflicts. Congress
  established the National Estuary Program (NEP) in 1987 to provide a
  greater focus for coastal protection and to demonstrate practical,
  innovative approaches for protecting estuaries and their living

  As pan of the demonstration role, the NEP offers funding for member
  estuaries to design and implement Action Plan Demonstration
  Projects that demonstrate innovative approaches to address priority
  problem areas, show improvements that can be achieved on a small
  scale, and help determine the time and resources needed to apply
  similar approaches basin-wide.
The NEP is managed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA). If currently includes 28 estuaries: Albemarle-Pamlico
Sounds, NC; Barataria-Terrebonne Estuarine Complex, LA;
Barnegdt Bay, NJ; Buzzards Bay, MA; Casco Bay, ME; Charlotte
Harbor, FL; Columbia River, OR and WA; Corpus Christi Bay, TX;
Delaware Estuary, DE, NJ, and PA; Delaware Inland Bays, DE;
Galveston Bay, TX; Indian River Lagoon, FL; Long Island Sound, CT
and NY; Maryland Coastal Bays, MD; Massachusetts Bays, MA;
Mobile Bay, AL; Morro Bay, CA; Narragansett Bay, RI; New
Hampshire Estuaries, NH; New York-New Jersey Harbor, NY and NJ;
Peconic Bay, NY; Puget Sound, WA; San Francisco Bay-Delta
Estuary, CA; San Juan Bay, PR; Santa. Monica Bay, CA; Sarasota
Bay, FL; Tampa Bay, FL; and Tillamook Bay, OR.

Introduction to Sarasota Bay
 Oarasota Bay is located on Florida's fast-growing
O southwest coast. Although bay resources have been
significantly affected by habitat modifications over the
past 50 years, Sarasota Bay still supports an abundance
of aquatic life.

Rapid residential development has caused major changes
in the bay's ecosystem.
Natural shorelines
have been replaced by
seawalls, bulkheads,
and riprap. Large=scale
dredge and fill
projects, completed
during the 1950s,
dramatically altered
the bay's shoreline and
bottom habitat.

The Sarasota Bay
National Estuary
Program has focused
habitat restoration
efforts on bettering
both intertidal and
bottom habitats through improvements hi water quality,
restoration of wetlands, and creation of artificial reefs for
juvenile fish. The Leffis Key project is one of many
restoration projects completed in the bay to restore lost
wetland habitat. And many more are planned or under
 Overview of the CocjUJna BayVValk
 at Leffis.Key        \"  I... j  : j*j,' :  ;.>
    Leffis Key is a 30-acre site, owned by Manatee
    County, located along the Sarasota Bay shoreline on
the southeast tip of Anna Maria Island, just north of
Longboat Pass. The site is directly adjacent to Coquina
Beach. It is estimated that more than two million people
visit Coquina Beach annually, making it one of the most
                                  heavily utilized
                                  recreational areas
                                  in the Manatee-
                                  Sarasota county

                                  The disposal of
                                  material from the
                                  dredging of the
                                  Waterway during
                                  the 1950s covered
                                  a small mangrove
                                  island and created
                                  the peninsula
                                  known as Leffis
                                  Key. The site had
                                  become vegetated
by non-native plant species such as Australian pine and.
Brazilian pepper. Seagrass beds were also covered
during dredged material disposal in the 1950s.

Since the site was in public ownership and was heavily
modified, it became a prime candidate for restoration.
                                                       Project Objectives
                                                           .e objectives of the Coquina Bay Walk project were

                                                        restore one of many dredged material disposal sites in
                                                        Sarasota Bay as a model for other projects;
                                                        increase the area of functional mangrove, wetland,
                                                        and shallow water habitats;
                                                        improve bay circulation;
                                                        increase levels of managed access to the northern
                                                        sections of Sarasota Bay and its resources;
                                                        increase available spawning and juvenile fish habitat;
                                                        increase bay educational and interpretive facilities
                                                        available to both local residents and tourists.

                                                     installed, and an educational brochure was produced to
                                                     inform visitors to the site about the ecological
                                                     importance and interdependence of the mangrove forest
                                                     and other surrounding habitats.

                                                     The site is monitored regularly for plant survival.
                                                     Maintenance is/provided by the Manatee County
                                                     Department of Recreation and Parks.

r l iie Sarasota Bay National Estuary Program drafted
JL  the initial proposal for funding in concert with the
Florida Department of Environmental Protection and
Manatee County. The project design was initially
developed by the staff members of the Florida
Department of Environmental Protection and reviewed
and influenced by the Sarasota Bay National Estuary
Program Technical
Advisory Committee.
Manatee County Public
Works staff members
also participated in
surveying, topographic
mapping, and final
design of the site, as
well as constructing the
During construction,
the first step was to
remove exotic species.
This was followed by
excavation of intertidal
pools and tidal inlets and construction of boardwalks
and walkways for public access.

The overall plan was to recreate the island through
excavation of a channel through the peninsula, thus re-
establishing tidal circulation around the area. A
footbridge was installed to provide visitor access to the
BayWalk. Fill material from the key and adjacent north
and south shorelines was used to create dunes to serve
as visual and sound barriers to road traffic. Volunteers
planted more than 50,000 native saltmarsh, intertidal,
and upland plants and trees. Interpretive signage was
'THhe project re-established over 30 acres of wetland
J.  habitat previously disrupted by human activities. As
such, it becomes a significant part of the larger program
to restore intertidal and freshwater wetlands in Sarasota
Bay.               /

The project has received positive media reviews. It won
an Environmental Excellence Award from the Florida
Marine Research Institute, was featured in Good
Housekeeping magazine, and is now included in the
Florida Wildlife Viewing Guide.

                             The project made it
                             possible to draw
                             together a wide range of
                             active participants and
                             funding sources
                             directed toward a
                             common goal. These
                             included Manatee
                             County, Florida
                             Department of
                             Protection, the City of
                             Bradenton Beach,
                             Florida Sea Grant, and
                             the US Environmental
                             Protection Agency. The
Sarasota Bay National Estuary Program provided
technical assistance and citizen input to the project. The
US Environmental Protection Agency provided $75,000
as Early Action Demonstration Project Funds. Manatee
County provided significant in-kind services including
design, site preparation, and excavation, as well as
$9,000 from the county pollution-recovery account. The
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
provided approximately $250,000 and the Florida
Department of Natural Resources provided native
plants. Overall cost of the Coquina BayWalk project
totaled approximately $350,000.

Lessons Learned
      Sarasota Bay National Estuary Program has
    identified areas throughout the region which are
suitable for wetland restoration and is working hard to
meet goals established as part of their planning process.

Specific lessons include:

 Dredged material disposal areas can be successfully
  restored into productive habitats with recreational and
  educational value.
 Tourists and local residents have been attracted to the
  site in significant numbers.
 Volunteers are more than willing to
  participate in planting. They indicate that it
  is fun and rewarding.
 Restoration efforts are excellent media
 Funds are generally available for habitat
                   Previous Publications in the .Demonstration Projects Seriei
  Report Title
  Biological Nutrient Removal Project
  Buttermilk Bay Coliform Control Project
  Georgetown Stormwater Management Project
  Texas Coastal Preserves Project
  Shell Creek Stormwater Diversion Project
  City Island Habitat Restoration Project
  Buzzards Bay "SepTrack" Initiative
NationalJEstuary Program
Long Island Sound, CT/NY
Buzzards Bay, MA
Delaware Inland Bays, DE
Galveston Bays, TX
Puget Sound, WA
Sarasota Bay, PL
Buzzards Bay, MA
Date    Publication'#
  New Options for Dredging in Barataria-Terrebonne  Barataria-Terrebonne Basin, LA
                                  pFor copies of any of these publications contact:
                              National Clearinghouse for Environmental Publications
                                           Telephone: (513)489-8190
                                           Facsimile: (513) 489-8695
                                                United States
                                       Environmental Protection Agency
                                           Washington, DC  20460