■ SUBMITTED BY EVA FURNER
On a beautiful Saturday morning, an enthusiastic crowd of Lemon Bay Conservancy supporters gathered at Wildflower Preserve to celebrate the start of the Wetlands restoration phase of the Wildflower Preserve Habitat Restoration Project. LBC President Jim Cooper welcomed everyone.
Jim noted that the Conservancy has been working on this major initiative since 2011, and everyone is very excited to see this phase of the project begin. Jim thanked the many, many individuals who have made contributions to Wildflower and introduced the ceremonial groundbreakers for the morning’s event.
The groundbreakers included Percy Angelo, Campbell and Don Burton, Per Christiansen, Buffy Crampton, Bill and Hilary Dahms, Richard and Carol Flint, Leroy Furman, Joe Gallagher, Marvin Medintz, Eldon Morrill, Lucia Schatteleyn, Irene Slattery, Susan Stringer, Kristen Kaufman (LBC’s NOAA technical rep), Stephanie Powers (our SWFWMD project leader) and Eva Furner.
LBC Board Member Eva Furner, chair of the Wildflower Preserve Committee, gave a short presentation about the project. She noted that LBC’s major funding partners in this restoration work, the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), are investing over $1.2 million at Wildflower. Eva also summarized expected benefits from the project, including the restoration of natural systems in the 80-acre preserve, improving water quality in Lemon Bay, enhancing freshwater and estuarine fisheries and creating new wading and shorebird habitats.
The next activity was some fun pictures on the “shovel line.” After the pictures, everyone moved to the shade of the oak trees and enjoyed refreshments, including a delicious cake donated by Buffy Crampton and the Manasota Beach Club.