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Everglades Ecosystems Find a New Champion

By: Kyle Grammatica

Cypress trees, sponges, and eelgrass, oh my! These are all part of exciting restoration projects underway thanks to a $100,000 grant from Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund.

The largest of these projects is sponge restoration in Florida Bay. As recently as the 1980s, Florida Bay held the greatest concentration of sponges in North America. But algae blooms and lack of sufficient freshwater from the Everglades contributed to the death of 95 percent of the Bay’s sponges. Without these sponges, Florida Bay cannot sustain its previous abundance of marine life. Projects underway in the Everglades will increase the flow of clean, fresh water, allowing the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to begin restoration of the Bay’s ecosystem. Bass Pro Shop’s generous grant will help them grow and plant 60,000 sponges in key areas of the Bay.

Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund is also funding the restoration of the Loxahatchee River. The Loxahatchee River is a treasure to both wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts. Unfortunately, upstream water diversion and saltwater intrusion caused the river to lose much of its native aquatic plants. Restoration projects reinstated the river’s natural water flow, making it ready for new plants. With the funding, 1,500 bare-root eelgrass plants will be placed in degraded areas of the river’s northwest fork. These plants should then spread throughout the river.

The Loxahatchee’s bald cypress floodplain forest has also suffered from saltwater intrusion. With Bass Pro Shop’s support, 1,000 bald cypress trees will be planted within Jonathan Dickinson State Park, helping to restore the forest and provide new habitat for wildlife.

“We are proud to partner with the Foundation to advance these priority conservation efforts,” said Bob Ziehmer, President of Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund. “Working together, we can better ensure the health of Florida’s amazing and diverse aquatic resources for future generations.”

“Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund has once again stepped up to restore and conserve two of south Florida’s finest natural habitats,” said Foundation President and CEO Andrew Walker. “Their continued commitment to Florida conservation ensures the wonders of the Everglades ecosystem will be available for future generations.”

About Bass Pro Shops

Bass Pro Shops is North America’s premier outdoor and conservation company. Founded in 1972 when avid young angler Johnny Morris began selling tackle out of his father’s liquor store in Springfield, Missouri, today the company provides customers with unmatched offerings spanning premier destination retail, outdoor equipment manufacturing, world-class resort destinations and more. In 2017 Bass Pro Shops acquired Cabela’s to create a “best-of-the-best” experience with superior products, dynamic locations and outstanding customer service. Bass Pro Shops also operates White River Marine Group, offering an unsurpassed collection of industry-leading boat brands, and Big Cedar Lodge, America’s Premier Wilderness Resort. Under the visionary conservation leadership of Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops is a national leader in protecting habitat and introducing families to the outdoors and has been named by Forbes as “one of America’s Best Employers.”

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