MAITLAND, Fla., Aug. 22, 2016 — Wrapping up the first phase of work, the St. Johns River Water Management District is on schedule to complete several projects at the Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area. The scheduled work is part of the district’s land management plan, which outlines long-term restoration and recreation activities for the property.
“The work at Emeralda Marsh represents a strategic approach to the restoration of the surrounding natural systems and water resources,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “Additionally, this project will increase fish habitat and expand recreational opportunities for future visitors.”
The property remains closed to the public during construction. The closure is necessary to ensure public safety as the district works with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to restore the connection between Lake Griffin and the area west of Emeralda Island Road known as Area Three.
Work at Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area is occurring in two phases. In the first recently completed phase, the district breached internal levees and constructed vehicle pullovers for a new wildlife drive, east of the existing drive. Relocating the wildlife drive was necessary because much of the levee on which the existing drive is located will become flooded once water levels equalize with the lake. During the second phase of the project, crews will breach portions of the outside levee and construct a boat ramp.
The total cost to complete the first phase of the project was $245,000. Of that total, FWC funded $206,000 and the district funded $39,000. The wildlife drive and surrounding area is expected to reopen for public recreation in mid-2017.
During the course of the project alternative recreational opportunities, including pedestrian trails and a wildlife drive, remain available at the nearby Lake Apopka North Shore.