New Project Launching to Benefit Manatees in Southwest Florida

The Giving Coast

With the holiday season upon us and the temperatures dropping, Florida’s manatees are on the move, aggregating in warmer waters that they use in cooler weather. Today, conservation and philanthropic partners, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and Gulf Coast Community Foundation (Gulf Coast), are announcing a new collaboration to connect locals to a manatee habitat restoration project in one such region – the Warm Mineral Springs Creek and Salt Creek areas. The partnership will provide multilingual education for the local community about an upcoming restoration project as well as human impacts to the springs system and manatee habitat through updated and improved signage, one-on-one outreach and community meetings, informational brochures and social media. The area in focus is in southern Sarasota County, where the mild, clear waters of  Warm Mineral Spring connect to the Myakka River and provide winter habitat for over 100 manatees. In addition to the beloved threatened species using the area, the spring head is a tourist hub used by more than 100,000 visitors annually and is a key economic driver for the local region. Unfortunately, over the years, Warm Mineral Springs Creek and Salt Creek have been degraded by sedimentation, erosion, debris – and human disturbance by local residents and tourists. A $3 million habitat restoration project led by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will address key habitat and community needs. However, to maintain the long-term benefits of the restoration work, communication and engagement with the local, diverse, and multilingual Eastern European community is essential.

 “Florida is one of the most popular destinations in the world,” said Mark Pritchett, President|CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. “One of the biggest reasons people come to Florida is to experience our natural beauty. We are grateful for wonderful partners like the National Wildlife Federation who protect and restore critical wildlife habitats while teaching about the importance of our vanishing wildlife such as our gentle manatees.”

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