This week, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation will begin the preliminary steps of a multi-phase restoration project on the newly acquired Periwinkle Wetlands Preserve, officials reported.
LAND CLEARING PHASE
Over the next several months, contractors will conduct the land clearing phase, which will include the removal and eradication of dense stands of large, invasive exotic trees. The work will be overseen by SCCF Habitat Management staff and vegetation debris will be mulched onsite. In addition to the tree removal, staff will conduct selective herbicide treatments to manage invasive exotic vines, groundcovers and grasses. Habitat Management also will begin to revegetate many areas throughout the property and construct hiking trails.
Removing exotic plants — which lack any native predators or pests to keep them in check — is key to successful restoration. The timing of the restoration was planned around nature, and a firm completion date has not been established.
Following the initial restoration, improvements will be added to the approximately two acres fronting Periwinkle Way between Purdy and Martha’s lanes. The improvements will be open to the public, while the majority of the preserve acreage will be dedicated for exclusive use as wildlife habitat.
The community space will be replanted with native landscaping. It will feature a 1,100-foot loop walking-biking trail connected to the shared use path. The trail will take bikers and walkers through a welcome plaza with a water bottle-filling station and interpretive panels. A demonstration marsh with wetlands features will include water-quality education panels, and there will be interpretative gardens with seasonal blooms and a sculpture garden.
Throughout the restoration process, SCCF Habitat Management staff will routinely conduct inspections for the reintroduction of invasive, exotic species to ensure it is a diverse healthy ecosystem.
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