Abandoned orange grove now flourishing wetland
By Yvette C. Hammett
RUSKIN - Traffic at the Bahia Beach restoration site near the shoreline of Tampa Bay is picking up.
Chattering black-necked stilts dance along the shoreline of the newly created estuarine wetland here, as a small flock of lesser scaup – ducks visiting for the season – splash and bob within eye shot in the manmade freshwater marsh.
This previously abandoned orange grove, once left to succumb to invasive Brazilian pepper trees and cogon grass, is transforming into a thriving freshwater and saltwater marsh system that will cleanse runoff from a nearby subdivision before it reaches Tampa Bay. In the process, it has become home to a wide variety of wading birds, blue crabs, red drum and snook. A bald eagle pair has successfully nested here for two years now.