A rare stretch of Indian River Lagoon property considered a habitat for migratory and wading birds is being restored to its natural condition, thanks to the combined efforts of the St. Johns River Water Management District, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and Indian River Land Trust.
The District is wrapping up its restoration of a 35-acre area within Coastal Oaks Preserve in Indian River County. Encompassing 220 acres along the Indian River Lagoon, Coastal Oaks is owned by the Land Trust and contains tropical oak hammocks, wetlands and ponds, and provides a critical habitat for hundreds of wildlife species.
“The ability to partner this way with non-governmental organizations is important to supporting our core missions,” says St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “Indian River Land Trust is a valuable partner in meeting the restoration goals of this project.”
In 2018, the District reimbursed the Land Trust $200,000 toward the acquisition of the property with funding from FDOT’s mitigation program. The District is providing an additional $800,000 to restore or enhance historic plant communities that would have been present on the site, including forested wetlands that have all but disappeared along the Indian River Lagoon estuary.
The Indian River Land Trust purchases undeveloped waterfront lots on the lagoon to preserve environmentally important land and water resources on the estuary. The Land Trust envisions that Coastal Oaks Preserve will become its premiere property, with plans for elevated boardwalks and a pavilion that will provide opportunities for outdoor education and scientific research for students.
As part of the restoration, the District will continue to plant native species on the site while taking steps to control invasive exotic plants over the next two years. It’s one more win for the Indian River Lagoon.
For information about other District projects benefitting the Indian River Lagoon, visit www.sjrwmd.com/waterways/renew-lagoon.