SWFWMD, Manatee County Partner to Restore Tom Bennett Park Habitat
Wetland and upland areas in Manatee County's new Tom Bennett Park are being restored thanks to a partnership between the county and the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
Manatee County began construction of the 180-acre park, located just east of Bradenton, in May 2010, and the park is scheduled to open Nov. 12. The county turned former pasture and woodlands into a passive park, offering residents a tranquil place to paddle their kayaks or canoes and have a picnic. The park also includes a fishing pier, children's play area, restrooms and parking.
The restoration project will restore 75 acres of intertidal and freshwater wetland and upland habitat along the Manatee River. Workers will restore degraded salt marsh habitat and coastal maritime forest by performing minor grading, removing invasive exotic plants, and installing native plants.
The project will provide benefits to the parks natural habitat, and reduce pollutants in stormwater runoff flowing into the Manatee River. The river flows into Tampa Bay, a priority water body under the state's Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Program.
Restoration work began in October, and should be complete in the spring. The District's Manasota Basin Board is funding $230,000 of the project's $530,000 cost, with state SWIM funds providing $30,000 and the county providing the rest.