SUBMITTED BY THE GICIA – On June 13, the Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association (GICIA) successfully completed the ecological restoration of three single family lots owned by the GICIA Land Conservancy. The estate of Mr. Edmund Pratt donated these three lots along with twelve others.
The GICIA’s largest restoration to date exists on eleven of the lots donated by Mr. Pratt between 40th and 45th Streets and is now known as the Edmund and Jinny Pratt Hardwood Hammock. Restoration of this site began in 1999 and was constructed in two phases. Upon completion, the exotic pest plants had been removed, over 5,600 native trees, shrubs, vines and grasses had been planted, recreating a native tropical hardwood hammock and subsequently much needed wildlife habitat.
Of the four remaining isolated and cleared parcels donated by Mr. Pratt, one was restored last summer. The GICIA Board approved restoration for the last three earlier this year. This restoration effort was planned in phases and estimated to take approximately 12 weeks to complete.
Earlier this summer, work on the three lots began with the removal of exotic pest plants. Topsoil was then purchased and spread, and finally the temporary irrigation systems were installed on all three lots. This past weekend, the crew from Mark Shevitski Landscaping along with Rick Joyce, certified arborist and GICIA consultant, worked to successfully establish three separate native hardwood hammock plant communities, using approximately 700 locally grown native plants.
According to Joyce, “Tropical hardwood hammocks are dense, evergreen plant communities that have a fairly dense canopy.” Rick Joyce further explained, “Aesthetically and biologically, tropical hardwood hammocks have a high diversity of plant species that provide a multitude of food sources and cover for native and migratory birds, as well as native wildlife. Ornamentally, they also offer a vast variety of leaf shapes, trunk forms, colors and textures.”
“The GICIA is excited to continue to do our part in maintaining the natural beauty of Boca Grande,” said Lance Isham, GICIA Land Conservancy Chair. By owning and maintaining almost 250 acres of property on and around Gasparilla Island, the GICIA continues to do its part to preserve the environment and beauty of Boca Grande.