Lake Wales Forest Mitigation & Net Environmental Benefit Site

Lake Wales, Pre-Restoration

The Lake Wales Forest Mitigation and Net Environmental Benefit (LWF) project located in Polk County, Florida, encompasses a 398± acre property. The project objective was to restore a managed pasture back to a mosaic of native upland and wetland habitats to fulfill a portion of the required mitigation resulting from unavoidable impacts associated with the installation of a 325 mile long natural gas pipeline by Gulfstream Natural Gas System, LLC.

KECE identified the property as an excellent location for restoration of a headwater wetland system feeding Lake Arbuckle combined with restoring upland scrub habitats to connect to the adjacent Arbuckle Tract of the Lake Wales State Forest. Decades of agricultural impacts resulted in this site being severely drained and cleared of native vegetation. KECE conducted the initial vegetation, wildlife, and hydrological assessments and designed and permitted a restoration plan to restore a suite of native habitats including mixed wetland hardwood forest, cypress forest, bay forest, hydric pine flatwoods, freshwater marsh, wet prairie, xeric oak, and scrubby pine flatwoods. The improved pasture with approximately 37 acres of jurisdictional wetlands was restored to approximately 143 acres of wetland forests, 34 acres of marsh, and more than 220 acres of uplands including approximately 170 acres of scrub habitat.

Lake Wales, Post-Restoration

The restoration has reached the permit success criteria with official release received from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the US Army Corps of Engineers in the fall of 2011. KECE continues to work as the site manager overseeing adaptive management and monitoring site conditions while Gulfstream pursues the donation of the restored lands to a conservation entity.

Ecological Services Provided

  • Site Assessment
  • Vegetation Mapping
  • Historic Aerial Photo-Interpretation
  • Wetlands Delineation
  • Listed Species Survey
  • Topography
  • Soils Map
  • Restoration Design
  • Planting Specifications
  • Prescribed Burn Plan
  • Permitting
  • Construction Oversight
  • Maintenance Oversight
  • Plant & Wildlife Monitoring
  • Hydrologic Monitoring
  • GIS Mapping

Additional Information on Lake Wales Forest