Integrating Rare Florida Scrub Habitat into the Viera East Community Design (Brevard County, Florida)

KECE was the primary environmental consultant on the planning, design, permitting and implementation of the Viera East Community in Brevard County, Florida. The Viera East Community includes over 1,000 acres of preserves with the majority being interconnected to allow for wildlife corridors and efficient habitat management. KECE ecologists continue to oversee management and monitoring of the upland and wetland preserves.

Over 400 acres of the preserved native lands were set aside and are being managed for the benefit of the Florida scrub jays and gopher tortoises. Florida scrub jays are listed as threatened by both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The gopher tortoise is listed as a threatened species by the State of Florida.

KECE, in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Brevard County, developed the Viera East Scrub Jay Management Plan and has been working with the Viera East Community Development District on adaptive management of this preserve. Management activities within the preserves include, but are not limited to, prescribed fire rotations, roller chopping, hand clearing trees, and exotic vegetation management.

Since initiation of management within the Viera East scrub, there has been an increase of utilization from three scrub jay families in the early 1990’s to more than 20 confirmed scrub jay families utilizing the site today (2009).

Additionally, the residential development was integrated with wetland preserves, created lakes, and a created flow-way. These areas provide pleasant views for the residents while enhancing privacy and wildlife habitat. Integrating nature with the residential development at Viera East Community was achieved years before the current emphasis on the use of low impact design, utilizing many features that are now part of low impact design methods.