Restoration Progressing on Puschel Preserve
Restoration efforts have been quickly progressing on the Puschel Preserve. The last of the exotic trees such as Australian pine (Casuarina equisetifolia), javaplum (Syzgium cumini) and seaside mahoe (Thespesia populnea) have been removed or left in place for cavity-nesting birds.
“Contractors have cleaned up any construction and demolition debris from the hurricane on the site and have removed a good percentage of organic debris from the parcel to allow replanting while leaving enough for wildlife to shelter,” said Wildlife & Habitat Management Director Chris Lechowicz.
A shipment of large cabbage palms (Sabal palmetto) was delivered and planted last week to begin the process of revegetating the preserve. Contractors placed these around water features, the planned trail system, as well as other areas. More plants will be arriving soon to begin the fill in other areas, but not make it too dense.
Restoration of Critical Habitats
There are several wetlands on the north side that will be planted with cordgrass (Spartina bakeri), as well as other wetland plants to reestablish a slice of the iconic open grassland habitat that once dominated Sanibel.
“This open landscape will attract many forms of wildlife from invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals,” said Lechowicz. The real task will be to keep the native buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) from overtaking these open areas over the years, he added.
The south part of the preserve, as you approach the Sanibel River, gets lower in elevation, and should be dominated by buttonwoods, as this was the natural habitat for this water-loving species.
A circular public trail off the city’s shared-use path will only traverse the northern section of the property where there will be a pollinator garden and a scenic overlook onto wetland and sculpture gardens. Plantings will be occurring throughout the wet months to maximize water from rainfall.
The preserve is expected to open to the public by the end of the year.