Lost Creek restored on South Shore

- The Manatee Viewing Center near Apollo Beach is one of the most popular attractions in the area. Now, there's a new reason to visit .

Just a couple of miles away, a new conservation center is opening. It's near Newman Branch Creek, a stream that was shut off from the bay 40 years ago. 

"This creek was cut off since 1973 when they built the canal system behind you," explained Tom Ries of Scheda Ecological, an environmental restoration company. 

The stream has returned to the flow of  four decades ago.

"Fifteen parts per thousand," Ries said as he looked at a device that measures salinity. "Five to 15,000 is what you want. That's important for juvenile fish."

Those fish can be seenswimming along the shallow shoreline; young trout by the dozens. The Newman Branch Creek restoration becomes part of the conservation area adjacent to Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Plant.

"All of this is joined by trails to the Manatee Viewing Center," explained Stanley Kroh of Tampa Electric.

TECO granted TECO granted conservation easments and has joined with the Florida Aquarium and Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to open the new Center for Conservation for school field trips and other groups to visit.

"We have to co-exist," Ries said. "There's going to be development and we do need a power plant, but if we can get the ecology back at the same time, then it's better for the future."

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