Monday, February 11, 2013

Wild Turkey Strand Preserve

Visitors can hike on marked trails and boardwalks overlooking wetlands, enjoy bird watching, perform nature study/photography, use the picnic area, use a water saving Clivus Multrum restroom, and learn about the remaining features of the WWII gunnery training range through a series of educational panels.


Wild Turkey Strand Preserve was acquired as three parcels in 2001, 2003 and 2008 and totals 3,137 acres; C20/20's second largest conservation area. The most recent acquisition contains 508 acres and is the second Conservation 20/20 property to be honored in the Legacy Program. This addition was officially named the "Elizabeth and Thomas Morrison Tract" of the Wild Turkey Strand Preserve. WTSP is just south of Lehigh Acres and east of the Southwest Florida International Airport. State Road 82 runs along the most northern boundary for approximately one mile, making it an appropriate public access point. Plant communities include flatwoods, cypress strand swamps, cypress dome swamps, freshwater marshes, wet prairies and abandoned pastures.

An FPL power line easement from Green Meadows Road heads west through private property and then through portions of the Preserve. The Green Meadows Water Treatment Plant and associated ground water wells are located at the southern end of Site #200. Alico Road runs along the southern most boundary (Site #90) for about 2000 feet. Single-family homes are scattered to the east & west along Rod & Gun Club Road. The remaining adjacent lands are mainly farmlands, which, if permitted, have the possibility of being turned into a rock mine. The entire preserve falls within the county's density reduction / groundwater resource (DR/GR) area.

In March 2008, a habitat restoration project began within existing areas of WTSP (#200) to have a contractor, also working in conjunction with the Caloosahatchee District's Florida Forest Service, remove large melaleuca trees and thin dense pine trees locations (in & outside the wildfire area). Most of this project was completed by the end of August 2008 but had to stop because of wet site conditions. Work restarted in February 2009 & was completed during March 2009.

The newly acquired parcel (Elizabeth and Thomas Morrison Tract of the Wild Turkey Strand Preserve-#345), also had areas damaged from an intense wildfire (April 2007; before acquisition) that burned through pine flatwoods and cypress communities that were also infested with the invasive exotic melaleuca tree, a highly flammable and fire tolerant plant. Another contractor recently completed (Jan. 30-March 2, 2009) work removing the majority of large-medium sized melaleuca trees from the preserve for free. These trees were cut down and turned into mulch. As you can imagine, the timing is wonderful considering the current tightening of budgets.

During the spring of 2011, an exotic plant contractor was hired to treat hundreds of acres of regrowth and smaller exotic trees not removed by the heavy equipment work crews. This work will be an on-going activity at all areas of the Preserve.
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