Courtesy Lemon Bay Conservancy

This week at Wildflower Preserve, the Diversified Professional Services (DPS) construction team is continuing their clearing work in preparation for the wetlands expansion and elevation changes. The burn pit operations described in our last project note have been delayed due to the high water table and challenges setting up the burn pit.  A metal frame for the burn pit has been delivered and burn operations should begin after the new setup is inspected.

As the clearing work continues, the areas where vegetation is being removed look "stark" with all the greenery removed.  But, what if we could look forward in time and get a perspective on how the areas will look after restoration?  In a video posted on our Lemon Bay Conservancy YouTube channel, Eva Furner, LBC board member and Wildflower committee chair, takes us to a spot near the center of the preserve to show us what it looks like today and give us a preview of what's coming. 

During the video, Eva is standing near the center of the preserve, at the location of the red dot on the map of Wildflower shown below.  (Sound volume on the video is somewhat low, so you may find you need to turn up your speaker volume to hear Eva's voice.)  To watch the video, click here: 
 YouTube: A View of the Wildflower Restoration 

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Diversified Professional Services, DPS, is the prime contractor for the restoration work currently underway at Wildflower Preserve.  Their crew has been actively working over the last few weeks to clear vegetation in the areas of the preserve that will be modified as part of the wetland expansion.

Surveyors came onsite before the clearing work began and placed brightly painted markers throughout the preserve with the lettering “LOD” for “limit of disturbance.”   The clearing team uses those markers to identify areas where vegetation needs to be removed and avoid areas that do not need to be cleared.

During the design process, careful attention was placed on avoiding as many mature native trees as possible.  Now, during the construction phase, the DPS team is also on the lookout for trees near the limits of disturbance that may not need to be removed.  In one such case, at the edge of our meeting meadow, the design and construction groups are coordinating efforts to plan a slightly redirected water flow that will allow us to save an oak tree that would otherwise have been removed.

The clearing process is creating a large amount of plant debris.  DPS, with concurrence from the Southwest Florida Water Management District and special permitting from the state forestry service, is preparing to burn some of that debris onsite.

The technique that they will be using involves a burn pit and a special piece of equipment called an air burner.  The burn pit is excavated below ground level and vegetation is placed into the pit.  The air burner sits above the pit, sucks in the smoke from the fire, and recirculates it into the pit.  This process dramatically reduces smoke and particulates escaping from the burning process. (When the fire is first ignited each day, there will be a short period of dark smoke before the air burner is engaged.)

The burning work will be closely supervised and only done during weekday work hours.  DPS plans to begin burn operations later this week and continue the work until all debris piles are removed. 

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For questions about the restoration work: Wildflower@LemonBayConservancy.org or 941-830-8922. Visit Lemon Bay Conservancy for more information and programs.