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Tampa biologist gets national award for restoration work

By Yvette Hammett

APOLLO BEACH – Pride, for biologist Tom Ries, comes in the form of meandering wetlands, native grasses and flowers and a flourishing nursery for Tampa Bay’s prized fish. All on private land.

He calls the projects P3s—public-private partnerships—restoration where it’s needed, not just where public land is available.

For years, Ries worked for various agencies whose mission was to restore or recreate wetlands. In 2003, he added another layer, creating a non-profit group to specifically target private landowners willing to partner on restoration projects and give up future development rights.

He was recognized for his work last week when he headed to Washington, D.C. to claim the coveted National Wetlands Award for Conservation & Restoration from the Environmental Law Institute.

Ries, executive vice president of Scheda Ecological Associates, was honored at the U.S. Botanic Garden on May 9.