Stay in the know about wildlife, water quality, and ecosystems on Sanibel and Captiva Islands and in Southwest Florida

Venus Lake Preserve Rewilding Underway

July 28, 2021

The Venus Lake Preserve is an 11-acre property that contains a five-acre tidally influenced lake that SCCF acquired in 1984. Three areas on this preserve need to be restored to make the entire property beneficial to native wildlife. The rewilding of these areas will include the removal of exotic species and the planting of native vegetation on this preserve, which already draws an array of wildlife.

SCCF Land Conservation Steward Victor Young and Field Technician Dustin Lucas planted about 100 trees and shrubs in July in three areas on the west side of Venus Lake that needed to be rewilded. These areas total around an acre of open habitat that is dominated by St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum “floratam”), which is a residential turf grass. There are also some Australian pine trees (Casuarina equisetifolia) near the road that will need to be topped or taken down. The plants chosen for the replanting include sea grape (Coccoloba uvifera), white indigo berry (Randia aculeata), wild olive (Forestiera segregata), mastic (Pistacia lentiscus), and gumbo limbo (Bursera simaruba). These trees and shrubs were chosen because they are the dominant plants adjacent to these open areas. The goal is to create a continuous stretch of habitat for wildlife.

Wildlife cameras have documented several wildlife species visiting the preserve, including bobcats (Lynx rufus), coyotes (Canis latrans), river otters (Lutra canadensis), and various wading birds. The trees immediately adjacent to the lake are buttonwood (Conacarpus erectus) and various mangrove species that help prevent erosion and provide nesting habitat for several avian species. As this area grows in, the spreading cover and habitat diversification will attract more wildlife to the property.

After the trees are planted, frequent watering will be needed to get the plants established; however, the summer rains are certainly aiding this process. The preserve will be furnished with new signs depicting the preserve name and new SCCF logo.



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