Rookery Bay Mangrove – innovative project to restore 225 acres of mangroves

rookery bay 1The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is partnering with China’s Rilin Group to help restore 225 acres of mangroves in Collier County. The industrial group has committed $5 million to restore and monitor the mangrove forest
at Fruit Farm Creek within the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR).

RBNERR and its partners have been researching causes of the mangrove die-off in the area, which includes construction in the
1940s of State Road 92, to develop a plan to restore environmental conditions such as historical water flows in the estuarine area.

This project will enable implementing these advances in research that support the importance of restoring water flows to improve habit vital to encourage natural mangrove growth.

The project’s first phase, which entailed permitting, engineering and design, site surveys, vegetation clearing, excavation and fill
removal, was completed in 2012 and included funding from private donations, a grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and in kind donations from local businesses.

rookery bay 2“We are pleased to work with China’s Rilin Group and our community partners to continue to restore this forest,” said Keith
Laakkonen, director of Rookery Bay Reserve and Southwest Regional Administrator for DEP’s Florida Coastal Office. “Mangroves are not only vital to our local economy but provide numerous benefits worldwide. This innovative project and accompanying research may prove beneficial to restoring and protecting these critical ecosystems around the globe.”

“We want our investment in Rookery Bay to help restore that mangrove system, and other mangrove ecosystems in other parts of Florida and the United States,” said Wenliang Wang, chairman of China’s Rilin Group. “We believe the results can also be deployed to China’s coastal areas where mangroves have been impacted, and urgently need to be restored and regenerated. The Rilin Group will continue to make strategic investments in environment and ecosystem preservation, and make its humble contribution to the protection of international ecosystems and the environment.”

Partners on the project include: Coastal Resources Group, Inc. (the project manager), the Ecology Group, J.R. Evans Engineering, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, the city of Marco Island, Friends of Rookery Bay and China’s Rilin Group.

Mangroves are instrumental to protecting Florida shoreline and providing habitat for marine life that are the basis of the $7.6-billion sports fishery industry, which employs 109,000 people. The Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters on the Gulf coast of Florida in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

programs, tours and events

Pre-register for the following programs at or call 239.530.5972. Registration fees include admission to Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center on the day of event.

Tuesdays – Fridays, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Guided Kayak Tours

Join a Rookery Bay naturalist to enjoy a two-hour guided tour which explores the mangrove bays, creeks and rookeries that make this Reserve a valuable treasure. This is a beginner’s trip and includes brief paddling instruction and all gear. Cost is $59, $49 for members.

Tuesdays – Fridays, 1:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Guided Boat Tours

Explore the unique ecosystem of Rookery Bay through an intimate boat-based tour. With a maximum of six passengers, these intimate on-the-water adventures offer a relaxed pace and emphasis on learning designed to help visitors develop a true sense of place and a deeper connection to this unique coastal wilderness. Several different trips are available, each with a different theme. Cost is $89, $79 for members. Proceeds support the non-profit Friends of Rookery Bay, Inc. Photography Annual exhibit in the Art Gallery through April 1 Sponsored by the United Arts Council in partnership with the Friends of Rookery Bay, this year’s exhibit was juried by John Brady, renowned photographer from SW Florida.

There were a total of 62 entries by 32 Florida artists. We are exhibiting 32 pieces by 22 artists. $1,600 in prize money, courtesy of
The Ethel and W. George Kennedy Family Foundation, will be awarded at the opening reception.

The exhibiting photographers are: Peter Berkery, Edwin Cohen, Christine Cook, Jim Freeman, Nancy Garrison, David Gruskin, Morris Herstein, Nancy Job, John Johnson, Robert Kenedi, Tyler MacDonald, Mike Matthews, Laurie Meehan-Elmer, Julie Pekrul, Jane Saull, Sonny Saunders, Kathy Snead, Joan Sonnenberg, Nancy Springer, Jeremy Sterk, Donna Valenti and RJ Wiley.

March 1, 12 – 1 p.m.

Lunch & Learn: Studying Estuarine Fish Populations

This talk will provide an overview of 15 years of fisheries data as it relates to altered freshwater flows in eastern Collier County’s
watershed with special emphasis on the Picayune Strand Restoration Project and current estuarine conditions.

Patrick O’Donnell joined the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in 1998 as an Environmental Specialist with expertise in fisheries research. In his position, he heads up two fisheries monitoring programs in the Ten Thousand Islands to collect baseline data on fish, sharks and commercially-important shellfish species prior to a large scale restoration project slated for the southwestern Everglades in the coming decade. His projects relies on volunteers to help to collect fisheries data relevant to restoration activities.

March 2, 1:30 – 4:00 p.m.

Neighborhood Lakes and Ponds Workshop

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, in cooperation with the Greenscape Alliance, is hosting two Neighborhood Lakes and Ponds workshops. Residents and visitors can learn about the challenges that face healthy ponds and lakes in Southwest Florida and how native plants in the littoral zone can help attract wildlife. This free program is perfect for HOA’s and homeowners with ponds and lakes on their property.

The workshops take place on March 2 at North Collier Regional Park, and also on April 13 at Naples Botanical Garden, both from 1 to 4 p.m. The Greenscape Alliance was formed in 2009 as a collaborative effort to streamline community awareness, compliance, and education efforts related to the Project Greenscape landscaper training. This group of local experts agreed to the common mission of protecting natural resources through innovative strategies that promote Florida- Friendly Landscaping™ practices in southwest Florida.

For more information or to register for one of the workshops, visit

March 12, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Wing It: A Beginning Birders Workshop

Enjoy this fun and informative class designed to help you identify birds. Oriented toward the beginning birder, the classroom session explores how to use birds’ plumage, shape, behavior and habitat to recognize various species. It also covers the effective use of binoculars and field guides. During the second part of the class you will learn more tricks of the trade during a field trip to a
nearby park where you can enjoy practicing new skills.

March 19, 6 – 10 p.m.

Batfish Bash for the Bay

During our signature fundraising event guests enjoy a casual atmosphere featuring cocktail hour among the aquariums and art gallery, sunset on the bridge over Henderson Creek, live and silent auctions, and live entertainment with dinner and dancing under the stars. Cost is $175 per person. More information and registration

March 22, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

World Water Day BOGO

In celebration of World Water Day, the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center offers “buy one, get one free admission.” Higher price prevails. Cannot be combined with other offers. Must pay at door.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.