The Tampa Bay Estuary: An Oral History of Community Collaboration to Restore Ecological Integrity



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Publication Date

January 2015


A Wisconsin native, William Fonferek grew up hunting and fishing in the Oconto County Park at Chute Pond, the 440-acre reservoir managed by his parents. In 1968, Fonferek signed up for the Navy and was selected to attend their Advanced Electronics Program. After his enlistment, he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay where he received his BS in environmental science. He was hired by the Nashville District US Army Corp of Engineers (Corps) as an Environmental Specialist working in the Regulatory Branch. In 1989, Fonferek transferred to the Jacksonville District as a biologist and eventually was assigned to manage the maintenance dredging of the harbors and waterways such as the Intracoastal Waterway. There, he developed expertise in dealing with sea turtles, migratory birds and gopher tortoises. The corps was a member of the Agency on Bay Management, so he volunteered to be a participant. In this interview, Fonferek recalls the time he spent in Tampa working as a biologist with the corp of engineers during the dredging of the Tampa Harbor. There, he learned to use dredge materials beneficially, avoiding bird nesting problems and developing environmentally-friendly alternatives. Throughout his career he applied this expertise and collaborated with local environmentalists and ornithological experts across a wide-spectrum of projects including Cornell Labs, the Southwest Florida Water Management District on Cockroach Bay and Palm River, the Hole Study, seagrass restoration, Tampa Port Authority on Port Sutton restoration, Egmont Key Alliance on shore protection, and Highland Lake restoration. Fonferek retired from the Corps in 2009.


Birds, Florida, Conservation biology, Oral history, Online audio


1 sound file ( 49 minutes) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;

Subject: topical

Birds; Conservation biology

Subject: geographic





Oral histories; Interviews





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