In Tampa Bay, community members help local governments with environmental stewardship
Tampa’s inaugural Green Team, the first city-sponsored environmental stewardship program AmeriCorps has funded in Florida, has 20 members.
Working primarily in city parks, they will maintain and restore the urban tree canopy that provides shade, beauty, clean air and protection against rising temperatures and extreme heat in a city that just finished its hottest year on record. They will clear litter and debris from stormwater drains to help with water quality and keep trash out of the streets, the river and the bay. They will also maintain green infrastructure like rain gardens and bioswales that help protect against flooding and improve water quality.
The Green Team is part of a recent effort by some local governments to recruit community service workers and volunteers to help tackle environmental issues.
Pinellas County and, more recently, St. Pete Beach have both launched Adopt-A-Drain programs for volunteers to inspect and clear storm drains near where they live. The Pinellas County program is a partnership with the UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County and currently has 10 volunteers working to inspect and maintain 75 drains with equipment provided by the program.
The Pinellas County program initially launched with funding from a Tampa Bay Estuary Program Bay Mini-Grant. Natural resources agent Lara Milligan says county government and UF/IFAS have continued the program “because we see great potential in it.”