Lemon Bay Conservancy (LBC) is pleased to announce that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has awarded a $420,000 grant to LBC to support our joint habitat restoration project with the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) at Wildflower Preserve on the Cape Haze peninsula in Charlotte County.
This grant is one of six awarded nationwide under the NOAA Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency Grant program. Leslie Craig, Southeast Region Supervisor of the NOAA Restoration Center, commented: “The Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency Grants Program was created to help develop healthy and sustainable coastal ecosystems. This project was selected because it will restore a mosaic of coastal habitats, reestablish tidal connectivity, remove exotic species, and enhance a Preserve that can provide recreational opportunities for many to enjoy. We look forward to partnering with the Lemon Bay Conservancy to achieve all of the outcomes envisioned from the project.”
This habitat restoration project will improve the tidal connectivity between Lemon Creek and Lemon Bay. Located at an abandoned 80-acre golf course now known as Wildflower Preserve, the project will also enhance the existing freshwater and estuarine wetlands, add nine acres of estuarine wetlands and five acres of freshwater wetlands, remove exotic vegetation, and add native wetland and coastal upland plantings. The project will improve the quality of water entering Lemon Bay, increase resilience of neighboring communities to the potential impacts of climate change (flooding and storm protection), enhance estuarine fisheries by providing important habitat for juvenile tarpon, snook and other species, and improve overall ecosystem function within the Charlotte Harbor watershed.
SWFWMD is committing $750,000 in District funds to support this restoration project and is providing project leadership for the restoration effort. Design work began in December 2014 and is scheduled to be completed in April 2016. Construction work is targeted to begin in the summer of 2016, with completion by the fall of 2017. SWFWMD funds are being provided as part of the District’s Cooperative Funding Initiative, which requires recipients to provide matching funding. The Conservancy’s funding match is through our $750,000 purchase of the Wildflower Preserve property.
The District has engaged Scheda Ecological Associates (SEA) as the lead contractor for the project design. Thomas Ries, executive vice president and principal scientist, heads the Scheda team, which has completed more than 90 restoration and stormwater retrofit projects, restoring over 2,400 acres. SEA has received numerous local and national awards in recognition of their efforts.
LBC invites the public to learn more about this exciting project at a Wildflower Preserve Habitat Restoration Design Review meeting on Monday, February 1, beginning at 5:00 pm at the Cape Haze Community Center. Eva Furner, LBC’s Wildflower Preserve committee chair, Stephanie Powers, the District’s project leader, and Tom Ries from Scheda will all be on hand to discuss the project and to answer questions. Following the design review, LBC will hold our annual meeting.
The Community Center is located at 180 Spyglass Alley, Placida, FL 33946, at the intersection of Spyglass Alley and Spaniards Road. Parking is available on both streets. To reach the Community Center from Placida Road (Hwy. 775), turn west onto Cape Haze Drive. At the traffic circle, take the first right onto Spaniards Rd. The Community Center will be just ahead on your left.
Lemon Bay Conservancy is a non-profit, 501 (c) 3 organization and environmental land trust that has served the Lemon Bay and Charlotte Harbor area for over 40 years. Our dedicated volunteers work hard on a range of environmental initiatives including maintaining trails, leading educational tours and programs, conducting water sampling, completing bird surveys, and studying juvenile tarpon and snook populations in partnership with Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission research staff. Besides preserving and maintaining conservation lands, we work to educate the community about natural systems and to advocate for protection of our natural world.
For further information, contact the Conservancy office at 941-830-8922 or Stephanie Powers of SWFWMD at (813) 985-7481, ext. 2213. For media inquiries, contact Susanna Martinez Tarokh, Public Information Officer, SWFWMD, at (813) 985-7481, ext. 2008.