A Florida county’s summertime ban on the use of products containing nitrogen or phosphorus on lawns and landscaping seems to be paying off. After decades of degradation, seagrasses – submerged flowering plants found in marine bays and lagoons – are making a comeback in the Tampa Bay Estuary, which covers 400 square miles between the Hillsborough River headwaters and Anna Maria Island.
As a vital part of the marine ecosystem, seagrass provides food, habitat and nursery areas for many species of marine life and maintains water quality, which impacts local economies. Seagrass amounts in the Tampa Bay Estuary have increased by 5,650 acres, well above the 2,000-acre goal set two decades ago.
Manatee County’s environmental protection division manager, Robert Brown, told the Bradenton Herald the improvements are especially significant in light of the continuing degradation of coastal waters around the world. “It just shows the management strategies we’ve implemented are working,” Brown says.
One of those strategies, in effect June 1 through September 30, is a county ordinance banning the use of any product that contains nitrogen or phosphorus on lawns and landscaping.