EcoGENESIS takes on the Cherrylake Wilderness Preserve
EcoGENESIS is bringing the firm’s depth of experience with a large-scale ecological restoration/mitigation banking to bear in the execution of this project involving permitting and regulatory liaison services for a +1300 acre, multi-phased mitigation bank in Hendry County, Florida. The bank will be converting citrus groves back into historically occurring wetland habitats such as hydric pine flatwoods, wet prairie, freshwater marsh, pond cypress, and mixed hardwood wetlands. EcoGENESIS assumed project management to achieve effective results and resolve outstanding regulatory issues. We successfully completed the Florida State permitting process with the South Florida Water Management District, with the issuance of the state Surface Water and Environmental Resource Permit (SWERP) in February of 2020. Completion of permitting required the writing of long-term and listed species management plans for construction, as the site is currently home to a Florida panther family, many listed wading bird species, and within the range of a female Florida black bear.
The site is ideally situated, being surrounded by Big Cypress National Preserve (BCNP) directly to the south, and other wetland and panther mitigation land on the north, west, and east. Restoration of the Panther Grove will result in a large complex of restored private and publicly-owned lands, providing crucial habitats for endangered species such as the Florida Panther, bonneted bat, and wood ibis. The project will result in hydrologic re-connection to Big Cypress National Preserve and restored surficial ground-water tables.
EcoGENESIS is also acting as the authorized agent on behalf of the client in negotiation with the USACE and IRT agencies to complete the Federal MBI permitting process, with a draft instrument currently in development and on-going coordination with the USACE. EcoGENESIS evaluated the original design and instituted several significant changes and modifications that resulted in the completion of the SFWMD process and positive movement forward in the federal process. Additionally, EcoGENESIS is partnering with E Sciences, Inc. engineers to verify hydrologic restoration targets and perform hydrologic and hydraulic modeling for federal permitting purposes.
Panther tracks (Photo Credit: Pamela Fetterman)
Black bear tracks (Photo Credit: Pamela Fetterman)
South Florida reference wetland mosaic on the Big Cypress National Preserve with wet prairie and scattered pond cypress, hydric pine and a pond cypress dome. (Photo Credit: Pamela Fetterman)
EcoGENESIS is working hand-in-hand with our client, IMG Enterprises, to begin implementation. Cherrylake in Central Florida, part of the IMG Enterprises agri-business family, is a premier provider of horticultural products and will be providing high-quality, root-enhanced grown stock for the restoration effort. Cherrylake also provides donated tree stock for large-scale restoration efforts of publicly or NGO-owned conservation lands through their 1000 Trees for 1000 Years initiative. We are proud to partner with such a visionary and progressive client in bringing the Cherrylake Wilderness Preserve to fruition.
Pamela Fetterman is the Principal Scientist and Managing Member of EcoGENESIS. Pamela has 30-plus years of experience in environmental and ecological resource management, permitting, and water use regulations. Her career has largely focused on the fields of wetland science and hydrology. She has amassed proven expertise in evaluation of impacts to wetland structure and function, delineation and verification of wetland and surface water boundaries jurisdictional to Florida and the United States, large scale wetland restoration and mitigation banking design and permitting, ecological restoration, natural lands management, and conservation banking.