State renews effort to protect Bullfrog Creek and gopher tortoise

Posted at 7:31 PM, Sep 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-01 19:31:06-04

Bullfrog Creek is a safe haven for the gopher tortoise, an endangered species in Florida. It's also a favorite spot for area fisherman.

"It's so relaxing," said Sidney Debusk, a local fisherman. "It makes you forget everything."

However, the southern part of Hillsborough County, where the creek is located, is experiencing rapid growth, according to Hillsborough County. This comes as families across the Tampa Bay Area are moving in and building homes by the hundreds.
'There's getting to be more and more every year," Debusk said.

There is a bait shop just feet from Bullfrog Creek and they've seen the numbers of cars grow year after year.

The state and Hillsborough County have pledged to increase the acreage of protected lands and to protect rare and native plants. 

This also includes measures to remove invasive plants and animals that can overtake natural habitats. There are also efforts to restore the shorelines. 

These agencies also work with developers who want to purchase land around protected areas. These developers often purchase mitigation credits to help preserve lands after they come in and develop, potentially kicking out native species.
"One of the reasons I do like it is the wildlife," said James Grogan, a Bay Area resident. "You can see anything on just about any given day. If you're in the right area."
They say keeping these protected areas alive, clean and maintained is critical.