Lemon Bay Conservancy celebrates Wildflower grant, new progress for park

February 5, 2016
By Marcy Shortuse

Wildflower Celeb
BY SUE ERWIN – Nearly 100 people gathered at the Cape Haze Community Center last Monday to commemorate the recent progress at Wildflower Preserve Habitat.
A restoration design review meeting preceded the annual meeting that also took place that evening.
Eva Furner, Lemon Bay Conservancy’s Wildflower Committee Chair, welcomed the group.
Furner presented an overview of the project and discussed plans that are coming together as a result of the $420,000 grant that was recently awarded to LBC from NOAA.
“SWFWMD is committing $750,000 in funds to support this restoration project and is providing project leadership for the restoration effort. Design work began in December 2014, and we hope the project will be completed in April 2016,” Furner said.
Tom Ries, Executive Vice President at Scheda Ecological Associates, also discussed the project.
He pointed out that in 1951 the property was still in a natural state.
“This was a deserted golf course that could have been turned into condos, so it was really amazing that this nonprofit was able to raise the money and preserve this area,” Reis said.
Ries added that the land has much potential.
“By restoring this area, it will help protect wildlife up and down the coast, since it is connected to several lakes and creeks,” Ries said.
Ries said the organizations involved are working together to design the project to be as maintenance-free as possible.
“We will be leaving all the native plants intact, but much of the area has a lot of exotics. So we will be pulling those out and replacing them with natives,” Ries said.
The conservation group is hoping to start the project this fall, pending any permit delays from the County or the Army Corps of Engineers.
Furner added that LBC has an excellent group of experienced volunteers who would be willing to help with the removal of the native plants.
One resident who attended the meeting asked what provisions will be made to protect the wildlife in the area.
Ries answered that he has often noticed that when heavy equipment is brought in, the wildlife seems to scatter while it is being used, and then it almost always returns to the natural habitat rather quickly.
To learn more about the project, go to lemonbayconservancy.org.