PALATKA, Fla., Sept. 27, 2018 — On Oct. 4, the St. Johns River Water Management District will hold the first of two community meetings to exchange information with stakeholders interested in the Flagler County Wetland Restoration Project, a project designed to increase the amount of wetland area, which increases productivity and provides valuable habitat.
The district recently launched a webpage, www.sjrwmd.com/facts/flagler-wetland-restoration-project/, to keep stakeholders updated about the project and future meetings and to share relevant information and answers to questions.
To ensure that the project moves forward collaboratively, the district also has introduced a dedicated email address, FlaglerRestoration@sjrwmd.com, to communicate with stakeholders and provide an opportunity for public input around the clock.
Drawing on a partnership between the district, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Florida Department of Environmental Protection State Parks program, the wetland restoration project will consist of moving piles of spoil back into man-made ditches and grading the material to the elevation that matches nearby remnants of natural wetland. The project will return dozens of acres of ditches and spoil piles to functional wetland that will yield food for fish and wildlife, filter and clean water, and provide other benefits.
The existing system is degraded due to ditching in the 1960s and 1970s, and it is undergoing further degradation as the remaining patches of wetland convert to less ecologically productive open water. There is limited intact wetland remaining within the boundary of the proposed project. The area is dominated by ditches and piles of spoil — in fact, more than 61,000 feet or more than 11 miles of ditch exist in the area.
The project calls for clearing and leveling spoil areas. Existing wetland areas, natural upland areas, and oyster reefs will be avoided.
The upcoming community meetings follow two local meetings with residents in August, the district’s Governing Board public meeting on Sept. 11 and partner presentations to the Flagler County Commission on Sept. 17, as well as numerous written responses to residents’ questions.