Ecological Restoration | Allen Broussard Conservancy
 
 
SPONSORS
PARTNERS
ABC BOARD
CONTACT

Fenced & restored wetland
Fenced & restored wetlandOsceola turkeys near restoration
Osceola turkeys near restoration

Bull gator (credit Bill Crotts)
Bull gator (credit Bill Crotts)

Two gators (credit Steve Wagner)
Two gators (credit Steve Wagner)

An island in a 2002-dug pond in Dec., 2008
An island in a 2002-dug pond in Dec., 2008

Herbiciding Cogongrass
Herbiciding Cogongrass

Climbing Fern
Climbing Fern

RESTORATION/MAINTENANCE OF WETLAND ECOSYSTEMS

Before the cattle were fenced out of the wetlands on the Crescent J, most of the native ferns and underbrush were eaten and trampled into the mud. Simply fencing the cattle out made a huge difference in those ecosystems, allowing them to recover.

Hydrology
Florida has been ditched and drained for more than a hundred years, lowering the water table and depleting both shallow and deep aquifers. Most cypress domes, saucer-shaped wetlands forested with pond cypress trees, had ditches cut into them to allow timbering and grazing. On the Crescent J, efforts have been made to reverse the destructive effects of draining by allowing the ditches to degrade or plugging them. As a result, the local water table is rising and the cypresses are regaining health.

Alligator Habitat
Alligators have recovered from near extinction to the point that most bodies of water again have alligators in them. The size of the lake, pond, canal or waterhole determines the size of the resident gator. Large lakes could harbor many alligators, though we will never see the reptiles in the numbers that the first European and American explorers of Florida saw.

The Crescent J has a number of ponds that have been dug to supply fill for roads and building sites. These ponds were purposely dug deep enough to provide habitat for alligators. Some have been stocked with fish and frogs. Canals, ditches and ponds are occasionally cleared of vegetation when plants have become too dense, as alligators need some open water. The dug ponds have islands with a few trees and shrubs to provide safe nesting habitat for wading birds. Alligators in the ponds protect the islands from bobcats, coyotes, dogs and raccoons. Even panthers and bears will avoid swimming in alligatorpopulated water.

Exotic/Alien Plant Control
Florida has many invasive species, both plant and animal, that out-compete native species, mostly due to the lack of the controlling species which usually did not come with them from their homelands. Plant species are often spread by deer, feral hogs and machinery which has been working where seeds and roots of those species can get into the machinery and travel to new locations.

Some of the most troublesome invasive exotic or alien species on the Crescent J are Tropical Soda-Apple, Cogongrass and both Asian and European (Old World) Climbing Ferns. Brazilian Pepper has not yet become a problem, but every year, it comes closer geographically, especially along highways. Vigilance is essential.

All invasive exotics must be fought whenever and wherever they crop up, as soon as possible, to prevent them from spreading out of control. An occasional Tropical Soda-Apple and Canadian Thistle can just be dug up, but if they become established, large patches must be sprayed with herbicide, as must Cogongrass and the Climbing Ferns. Climbing Ferns can be prevented from taking root in wetlands if water is kept at a depth sufficient to keep the roots flooded. That is enough reason by itself to restore the hydrology in the cypress domes and sloughs.

Trees
About 130 thousand trees of native species have been planted on the Crescent J Ranch since 1990. Live Oak, Southern Magnolia, Southern Red Cedar, Bald and Pond Cypress, Longleaf, Loblolly and Slash Pine make up the majority of those native Florida tree species, but Tupelo, Water Hickory, Pignut Hickory, Water Oak, Swamp Bay, Swamp Chestnut Oak, Sand Live Oak, Chapman’s Oak, Turkey Oak, Hercules Club, Acacia, Mulberry, Cabbage Palms and Sweet Gum have also been planted in their proper locations to restore disturbed habitats.