Gulf of Mexico
Robinson Preserve, Florida Hikes

FL - Manatee County to Bring Even More Habitat and Fun to Robinson Preserve With $2.8M Project

The driving force behind this year’s 135-acre restoration effort at Robinson Preserve Expansion is an effort to make habitat for snook, an important game fish in Southwest Florida. Manatee County Parks & Natural Resources staff have been working with leading inshore fisheries biologists to design wetlands that will provide high quality habitat for juvenile snook life stages.

Sarasota Bay, Florida - Habitat restoration project managers juggle many priorities. One of those priorities is ensuring that the created habitat is useful for local wildlife. But which species? Threatened and endangered or economically important species often top the list.

Volunteers planted buttonwoods in the Robinson Preserve Expansion during National Estuaries Week in 2017.

The restoration plan will change with the priority species. Gopher tortoises need different things than tarpon, for example. Then there are considerations for public access, which can conflict with goals for species restoration. Yet public access to these spaces is critical to human health and public support for restoration projects. A quality job results in public land, inviting to all people, that provides safe places for wildlife to feed and breed.

Robinson Preserve is a shining regional example of restoration success. Hardly a day passes when the preserve's parking lots are not close to full, yet wildlife from wading birds to mangroves to oysters have taken the place by storm. The driving force behind this year’s 135-acre restoration effort at Robinson Preserve Expansion is an effort to make habitat for snook, an important game fish in Southwest Florida. Manatee County Parks & Natural Resources staff have been working with leading inshore fisheries biologists to design wetlands that will provide high quality habitat for juvenile snook life stages.

So, what do juvenile snook need in a restored habitat? First, they need interconnected habitats so that snook larvae can find the restored habitat. Yet the habitat must restrict access for larger fish so that the young fish do not become prey. Their other needs are similar to our own. Young snook need food, a safe place to go when they’re tired of wind and waves, temperature control to keep them from getting too cold in winters, and shade to prevent their sensitive eyes from exposure to Florida’s strong sun.

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