Little Bayou Park in South St. Pete benefits from 10-10-10 global work party

10/11/10 Seán Kinane
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Even if you live nearby, you may have never heard of Little Bayou Park. It’s tucked away in a residential corner of southeast St. Petersburg and includes newly restored wetlands, pine flatlands, shoreline and mangroves. Yesterday, as part of the 10/10/10 global work party, students and environmentalists helped restore the park. Megan Demchar is the vice president of SEAS at USF St. Pete, an environmental student group.

Demchar says more than thirty people helped clean up Little Bayou Park or plant trees on the USF St. Petersburg campus.

Ray Wonderlick is the volunteer coordinator of the restoration of Little Bayou Park. Restoration of pine flatwoods there has been going on for six years.

One of the most common invasive tree species removed by Wonderlik and the rest of the team is cherry laurel.

Wonderlick hopes the restoration of wetlands, shoreline, and pinewoods at Little Bayou Park will return the area to a condition similar to what it was before major land-use changes drained much of the watershed.

Based on information recorded by John Bethel in the early 20th century, biologist Ron Chicone determined what the watershed would have looked like historically. Chicone compares that with what south St. Pete looks like today.

Some retention ponds and that drainage ditch Chicone mentioned, Little Bayou Creek, is about all that’s left of the wetlands in the watershed. That is until less than a decade ago when restoration of Little Bayou Park began and a small freshwater pond was created. It’s full of life: an anhinga fishes in the shallow waters and a great blue heron rests on the bank. Funding comes from the controversial practice of wetlands mitigation: it’s paid for by the developers of Carillon in mid-Pinellas County, where wetlands were destroyed.

Ray Wonderlick says the volunteers planted 50 or 60 native plants near the ponds on Sunday, "we planted red bay, we planted white stopper, we planted cedar."

USF St. Petersburg

WMNF coverage of tree planting at USF St. Pete

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