"Sorry, we're CLOSED due to Illness"
Gus’ Crabby Adventures, LLC pledges to donate future profits to Jan K. Platt Environment Lands Acquisition Protection Program (ELAPP).
Park Being Proposed as Best Path to Preservation
Jun 10, 2009 - 8:07:23 PM
By Melody Jameson
RUSKIN -- Two local leaders are taking their campaign for a Ucita Park on the road, beginning
On Thursday morning (June 11), Gus Muench and Fred Jacobsen will be making the case for
protecting a large chunk of threatened Tampa Bay shoreline south of Ruskin before the Agency
on Bay Management (ABM), an arm of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. Muench, aHillsborough County native and lifelong fisherman, along with Jacobsen, current president of the Ruskin Community Development Foundation, will be looking for support of their plan to make the existing Cockroach Bay Preserve plus area around it a large county park honoring the region’s first known natives, the Ucitas.
Bay area is the second largest shore bird rookery on Tampa Bay , is the site of the 1539 landing of the Hernando Desoto expedition and was the historic home of the Ucitas. In addition, it is the last mostly untouched section of Tampa Bay shoreline, Muench pointed out. The existing Cockroach Bay Preserve along with the uplands and wetlands surrounding it represent a short-term opportunity to save something valuable as an eco-tourism destination, valuable as the site of historic activities, valuable as wildlife sanctuary, valuable as a natural environment for humans to recharge, Jacobsen asserted.
of Tampa Bay in Pinellas County , Muench said, where both archeological and environmental resources have been saved for the enjoyment of future generations.
©2009 Melody Jameson
© Copyright 2008 by The Observer News Publications and M&M Printing
By STEVE OTTO Steve Otto
Published: July 8, 2009
For a while, after the completion of Interstate 75 south of Tampa, it appeared as if much of
Gus' world would remain isolated from the crush of development. Businesses dried up along U.S.
41, the old route south that cut through Gibsonton and continued on to Apollo Beach and Ruskin
(with a stop at the old Coffee Cup restaurant) and on into Bradenton and Sarasota.
Of course, it was only a temporary pause. Land - waterfront land - is a finite resource, and
gradually developers began working their way along the shoreline all the way to the Little
Manatee River and Cockroach Bay.
Gus Muench is a crabber. He gets up before dawn and heads out into the water before most of
us have tuned in to the first traffic report. He builds artificial oyster reefs. He largely was
responsible for the signs and buoys near launching docks used as guides to protect the
The man from Cockroach Bay
He is as much a part of that landscape as the mounds that mark the old Uzita Indian village. He
has been fighting a decades-long battle to preserve not just the land, but the fragile
environment as well. Among his ideas is the establishment of a park - and not just any park.
Here is a small part of a letter he sent last week:
"Born in Tampa, I moved to Cockroach Bay 39 years ago...The Uzita Indian village sat on the
banks of the Little Manatee River and those native people lived away from a world of population
expansion for hundreds of years. When Hernando de Soto sailed into Tampa Bay their lives
changed forever and they ultimately disappeared.
"In 1976 I started commercially harvesting blue crabs and gill netting mullet. And times were
good. Today there are more crab traps than blue crabs and we ask what happened.
"In 1986 I started the Little Manatee Preservation Committee and we did a survey. We
counted eight boats one day. Today that number is more than 100. What will it be like when all of
north Manatee and south Hillsborough counties are urbanized? Boaters continue to ignore rules
and destroy sea grass with outboard motors.
"A small group of us are creating 'Friends of the Uzita Heritage Park.' We're lobbying for a
new county park to replace Cockroach Bay Park. The boundaries would start at the Little
Manatee River, run to the Manatee County line and include county and state uplands, with
submerged lands out to a six-foot depth. Sea grasses would be listed as areas of critical
concern. The county's EPC Environmental Protection Commission has counted more than 30,000
prop scars. We want to create a new Uzita Heritage Park dedicated to low-impact recreation
and then create a sister cultural learning center such as the Weedon Island Preserve in Pinellas
Friends of the Uzita
Muench thinks all of this can be done with land already owned by various governmental entities.
His group is planning an organizational meeting at 6 p.m. July 15 at the Ruskin Library. There are
lots of issues and pros and cons, but Gus Muench is on to something, and that something is a
piece of old Florida like you never will see again. He deserves to be listened to.