Lakeland, Florida-$2 million and 800 acres of mined out property equals a new managed wetland for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Department of Environmental Protection.
The old Tenoroc mine in Lakeland, Florida was once a hub of activity in the 1960’s. Tons of phosphate ore was hauled out and used across America’s bread basket to fertilize crops. What got left behind in phosphates place was a miserable scattering of used up holes, toxic mineral leftovers and a wetland that was more dry than wet.
Because the mine operated in those early days of mining and not by today’s stricter mining standards, reclamation of the land was not mandatory. Tenoroc sat idle for decades, chocking water supplies, damaging the flow of the nearby Peace River and sabotaging wildlife’s chance at survival.
Thanks in part to Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and a generous grant from the EPA; Tenoroc now stands as a testament to how wetlands can be reclaimed from Florida’s diminishing supply.
Not only will the wildlife get a necessary feeding and breeding area back for themselves, the managed wetland will also provide a necessary watershed that has been missing from the area for over 80 years. Now water quality in the neighboring Charlotte Harbor will improve and that makes local residents very happy.
Tenoroc is now open to the public for fishing and hiking. As the restoration of the wetlands continues, additional hiking and fishing opportunities will open up. As it stands now, many anglers come to Tenoroc for the fishing-it’s simply one of the best bass breeding grounds in the area. And with the addition of the 800 acres of managed wetlands, the fish population is only going to grow back to its once productive state.
Tenoroc has now expanded to fourteen lakes of over 900 acres and over 7,300 acres of prime wetland habitat. It was one of the original fish management testing grounds in Florida and has provided, through early studies, the backbone of our states fishing management practices.
A gateway to the Great Florida Birding trail, Tenoroc’s diverse habitats prove year round that this area is truly one of Polk Counties greatest bird communities. With over ten miles of hiking trails, you’re sure to find a great spot to watch birds.
From abandoned phosphate pits and pollution to nesting birds and quality fisheries, Tenoroc has come a long way in the last one hundred years. With enough support from locals, communities, state and national organizations, even the worst of environmental disasters can be fixed. All we have to do is care.