Work was suspended on our Wildflower Preserve Habitat Restoration Project in October 2018, when soil tests conducted by the contractor, in preparation for selling excess excavated soil offsite, identified what were believed to be elevated concentrations of arsenic in some soil samples.
Lemon Bay Conservancy (LBC), as the property owner, was responsible for assessing site conditions and identifying any required mitigation strategies. As LBC worked to identify resources and funding to address the arsenic concerns, two experts with deep skills and experience in dealing with similar issues stepped forward to provide pro bono support. Laurel Lockett, a partner with the law firm of Carlton Fields, agreed to provide legal services. Her practice area focuses on environmental law and more specifically remediation and redevelopment of contaminated sites. Keith Tolson, a toxicologist and senior principal environmental scientist with Geosyntec, agreed to guide the technical efforts.
In December 2018, Geosyntec further evaluated the site and found that arsenic concentrations on the site were consistent with background conditions documented elsewhere in the state, as well as expected from the legally applied use of turf management agrochemicals typically employed by golf courses, and below the range of concentrations that have been approved by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) elsewhere for recreational use. In discussions with FDEP, it was agreed that the restoration project could proceed without further FDEP engagement; provided that any soil removed from the site would be handled following FDEP requirements.
Subsequent to the soil screening work, one very small area (roughly 45’ by 120’) in the vicinity of the old golf course maintenance sheds was characterized, excavated and removed to an appropriate landfill following FDEP requirements. This work was performed by Geosyntec under contract with LBC.
Keith and Laurel reviewed the site information with the Southwest Florida Water Management District in February 2019 and the District began working on resuming our project. The District engaged the professional design team from ESA Scheda, creators of the original project design, to modify the plans to keep all excavated soil onsite. The updated plans have been completed to provide an elevated observation area to the west of the meeting meadow and a berm near Placida Road where the excavated soil will be placed. The observation area will provide great views looking out over the restored habitats.
District project manager Dr. Stephanie Powers has worked with the site construction contractor, Diversified Professional Services (DPS), to review the costs associated with the design changes and necessary modifications to keep the project within budget.
To offset the expense of the new elements, some of the original project plan will be eliminated or modified. The changes include eliminating the upland plantings from the contract, using the project contingency funds, reducing the density of wetland plantings, and removing plant maintenance from the contract. It will also be necessary to eliminate the planned modifications to Duckweed Pond in the southeastern corner of the property.
The District anticipates that DPS will be back on site at the Wildflower Preserve to resume project work before year-end 2019.
The changes to the project plan that eliminated the upland plantings mean that LBC needs to find new sources of funds to complete the plantings and plant maintenance. If you’d like to help, you can contribute by clicking here to donate to our special “Plants & Pathways” campaign for Wildflower. You can also contribute by calling the office at 941-830-8922.
|Wildflower Restoration Goals