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Cape receives draft plan for Coral Point Canal mitigation
December 5, 2019

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The city of Cape Coral continues to work to remedy a situation in Coral Point Canal for which the municipality received a letter from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in August.

The city, which was cited for "poor environmental practices" that included removal of protected mangroves along the Cape canal, has received a draft of a restoration plan from Cardno, a global infrastructure, environmental and social development company, which they contracted with to assist in restoration efforts.

"Once the property owner has time to review the plan and provide input, the consultant will finalize the plan to be sent to FDEP," said city spokesperson, Maureen Buice, in an email.

Buice was clear that this is only a draft of proposed plans.

Work was done along the canal in July to clear vegetation that impeded drainage and navigation, the city said.

"The purpose of the maintenance work was removal of invasive exotic vegetation from the canal bank, which impeded drainage and restricted navigation. The vegetation had overgrown more than half the width of the canal restricting safe navigation for boaters," Buice said in early August.

On Oct. 15, a Cardno ecologist conducted a site assessment within the Coral Point Canal to collect the necessary data and observations for the proposed restoration plan.

"Sprouting red mangrove seedlings and new basal shoots were observed within the limits of the maintained canal bank during the site assessment," the city-provided draft of the proposed restoration states. "Cardno observed the root system of red mangrove to extend approximately 10-15-feet landward of the Canal bank. Cardno recorded the limits of the new red mangrove seedlings and basal shoots apparent during the site assessment to quantify the area for restoration and produce the following Canal Bank Planting Plan. The proposed Planting Plan would help establish and bolster native species cover along the canal bank as well as provide bank stabilization. The planting plan and the extent of the planting area is shown on the enclosed Restoration Drawing."

The draft planting plans include 5,119 shore paspalum, 137 red-mangrove, 137 sand cordgrass and 137 fakahatchee grass.

"Red mangrove will be planted every 8-feet along the canal bank within the maintained area at approximately two-feet above the mean high water line for 1,100-feet," the draft states. "Red mangrove naturally recruiting above this planting zone will be monitored and care taken to ensure survivability. Precaution will be taken not to disturb the soil profile along the canal bank."

The restoration draft also noted in the wetland area that "soil disturbance was minimal and no fill was placed within the wetland area. Furthermore, native vegetation (swamp fern) is now the primary cover within the cleared area. The herbaceous vegetative stratum in this area is presently comprised of swamp-fern and cabbage palm seedlings.

"Because native vegetation is now the dominant cover and disturbance within the temporary impact was minimal, no planting plan is proposed. The elimination of invasive exotic vegetation is an enhancement to the overall wetland. As corrective action for soil disturbance, Cardno proposes light grading within the northern limits of the temporary crossing wetland area to eliminate ruts without disturbance to native naturally recruiting vegetation. The elimination of ruts would bring the cleared area back to grade and reduce the unnatural pooling of water in the wheel ruts. Cardno will provide an ecologist to supervise the grading of the ruts to ensure no native vegetation is disturbed."

The draft also states that the area will be monitored with annual reports.

Overall, the draft states that the city "will conduct a minimum of 8 maintenance events or as needed, on a bi-monthly schedule within the first two years following planting, to ensure that nuisance and exotic species do not become established or exceed 10% of the restoration area."

It is unclear when the owners of the property, Ripple Lake LLC, and Cardno, will finalize the draft to submit to FDEP.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj

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