Linda McAbee remembers when the beaches at De Soto National Memorial were big, beautiful, stretching out forever.
“This was the most beautiful place you could imagine,” she says.
Twenty years later, the beaches are almost gone. “It makes me very sad,” McAbee adds, looking out to what used to be.
The national park -- which sits in a precarious spot where the Manatee River meets Tampa Bay -- is still gorgeous. It’s just smaller. A lot smaller.
Shoreline erosion, climate change, storms. “We get a lot of pounding right here at the mouth of the river,” says Ranger Dan Stephens.
So the University of Central Florida and park rangers are hosting an event to save the park, which may – or may not – have been a landing place for Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto.
On Saturday and Sunday, August 12-13, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., families are invited to come out and help revitalize the shoreline.
“We’re going to be sinking oyster shell bags off the coast and then planting mangrove seedlings, to try and recreate and establishing shorelines here at the park, ” says Ranger Dan Stephens.
Everyone is invited. Wear swim trunks (you will get wet), sunscreen, crummy shoes, and work gloves if you have them.
Linda McAbee is excited that people are going to help save a place she truly loves:
“This is not something that we want to lose. I’ve been bringing my grandchildren here since they were tiny.”