The proposed project will benefit a 5-mile long, meandering urban creek and the 5-mile long urban bayou fed by it. The creek is fragmented by more than ten culverts and five bridges. Each fragment carries a mixture of nutrients, sediments, and invasive species (seeds). The development along the watershed predates the current science/land development codes for low lying areas and riparian zones.
The project will identify where run-off is occurring, study, document, and restore the natural vegetative buffers that contribute to the natural function of the creek system.
Logging efforts during the early timber days served to shift the natural landscape from upland Longleaf Pine, American Beech, Cedars, Junipers, Sweet Gum, Sweet Bay, Black Gum, Gall Berry, and Dogwood to a mixture of low quality species found today which include a mixture, of opportunistic Laurel Water Oaks, Popcorn, Privet, and Slash and Sand Pine.
Habitat loss contributes to habitat degradation over time with negative impacts on fisheries, impaired biological structure, and reduction of property values from fish kills, and loss of recreation in the bayou which once held water sky competitions and other sports.
Step III of the project includes a boardwalk located behind large box stores on Bayou Blvd. The boardwalk with kiosks might serve light foods or exhibit and sell artistic wares, and/ provide archeological opportunities. The boardwalk could be constructed of TREX decking, manufactured from recycled plastic bags. This is a potential opportunity for a new business to help the county meet the 2020 state of Florida goal in which each county must recycle paper, plastic, and glass. With projects that will be using such decking, its possible such a business might relocate here to provide the decking materials.
The project can expand opportunities for the public to view wildlife by adding public access points along the creek. Overlooks with seating, and educational signage with lightening can offer the public new areas to explore, learn, and relax.
Keeping the water quality high improves recreational opportunities which at present are limited due to rain events that cause the spillage to spread through the watershed with resulting health impacts. Multiple venues are regularly limited by high fecal content in the watershed especially where homes with septic are located on the creek and bayou.
In a well-functioning watershed ecosystem, rainfall percolates into the soil through root tunnels and is slowed and thus better absorbed into the soil with a vegetative berm.
The project curricula support high school science, trade schools, and higher education with topics and practical experience in ecology, geology, geographic, topographic, and biological functions to provide Coastal Plain Restoration Techniques.