Mitigation Efforts at C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir Prove Successful
When the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir was built in the early 2000s, the environmental impact consisted of approximately 190 acres of wetlands. To offset this impact, Tampa Bay Water undertook an extensive mitigation project that covered nearly a thousand acres of the 5,500-acre Chito Branch Reserve on which the reservoir is located. Mitigation was performed on three separate areas of the reserve, including:
- North Carlton-Smith – prior to the restoration, this area was mainly pasture and sod farm, and was heavily ditched. Today, the area is much wetter, with more than 120 acres of new wetlands created.
- East Pruitt – this former sod farm and pasture was heavily ditched. Today, this area includes the 1,100-acre reservoir, more than 62 acres of created wetlands and 120 acres of restored pine flatwoods.
- West Pruitt – Previously, this land was home to tomato fields, cypress and pasture land. Today, an additional 79 acres of wetlands have been created, and pine flatwoods now stand where the tomato fields used to be.
In order to buffer these wetland mitigation areas and improve habitat, 600 acres of the adjacent agricultural land was planted with pine and native ground cover.
Conserving existing resources was important as part of this mitigation project. For example, muck from impacted wetlands was excavated, stored and added to wetland creation areas, and 100 mature cypress and 200 cabbage palms were transplanted from within the reservoir footprint to mitigation areas.
While very specific success criteria have been met for this project, one of the most obvious signs of success is the numerous forms of wildlife that now live and play in this area, including sandhill cranes, alligators, Southeastern American kestrels, and even the endangered wood stork.
Construction on this mitigation project was completed in 2005, and management continues, with treatment of nuisance species and prescribed burns. To learn more about the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir or its mitigation project, visit our C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir section.