Winter Manatee Season Has Ended

FWC regulations do not allow In-water operations during manatee season and restoration has been at a standstill since the last day of October last year. Well perhaps not a complete standstill. Over 11,000 units of grass were planted before divers left the waters on the eastside of Fishbowl Bridge and those plants have been slowly taking root.

eelgrass, grass pods, grass
Grass pods ready for planting.

Yes we have had some losses due to manatees and also people standing and walking along the bottom but it is a start.  Now, with the summer growing season almost here and hungry manatee’s off to the Gulf, we will begin to see noticeable changes. An assessment of how many grasses survived and their locations will be completed during the first few weeks.

Where Is The Project Now?

This map shows the river and canals that were first permitted, designated as Phase 1. Before ending operations last fall we were able to complete Area “A”. Beginning immediately divers will be back in Area ‘B”. The plan is to then move into Area’s “C”, “D”, “E”, and “F” in that order. That order may have to change depending on the amount of boat traffic we experience. That would also use all of our current funding. Homosassa River Restoration Project has been working hard to secure the funds to continue and we are very optimistic that we will able to complete Area “G” this summer as well. That will finish the entire 25 acres first permitted.

What’s Next You Ask.

Phases 2 and 3 will be covered under the second permit. As shown on the map this will bring the restoration project up to the confluence of the Homosassa and Halls Rivers.  The expected timeline for completion of both phases is end of summer 2022 if enough funding is obtained. Total restored river and canals at this point would be a little over 46 acres. Remember that maintenance of the restored area will continue for an additional two years until grasses are established.

And Then?

Well to be honest that will depend on several factors. Some of them political in nature. Our main benefactor in the Florida Senate, Wilton Simpson, will be leaving office due to term limits. Senator Simpson has backed the Homosassa River Restoration Project as well as Save Crystal River and without his support neither group would have been successful. Representative Ralph Massullo has always supported our efforts on the House side and will remain in office. Funding for a restoration project of this size must be funded at the state level and it is our hope that our legislators continue to see the benefits of a clean and healthy Homosassa River.

How You Can Help

Spread the word!! Anchors and props damage grasses. Try and watch where you stand if enjoying a day in the headwaters. Just like your lawn, aquatic grasses can be destroyed by to much foot traffic.

If you are boating near a work area PLEASE watch out for divers. Keep in mind there may, and probably will, be more than one diver in the water.

Continue to follow us on Facebook and this website. We keep expenses to a minimum but running an organization, even a volunteer one, has overhead.  DONATE to our 501c3 if you can or we are listed with Amazon Smile which makes helping us easy and free to you if you are an Amazon shopper.