Restoration Success at Blowing Rocks Preserve

Birds, coastal wetland plant, coastal wetlands

!!BW-group-photo

Deen Copeland (Class of 2016), Don Schuster (Class of 2009), Linda Chancellor (Class of 2010), Reva Brugnoli (Class of 2013), Karen Schuster (Class of 2009), Susan Warmer (Class of 2007), Lani York (Class of 2016), Bob Bruce (Class of 2012), and Sam Chancellor (Class of 2010) grace the entryway to the nature center at Blowing Rocks Preserve, a Nature Conservancy preserve on Jupiter Island. Restoration Coordinator Mike Renda, who will retire in June of 2018, led us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the successful and significant restoration at this ocean to riverfront property.

!!mike-renda-&-group-at-bw2

Our tour began with a walk to the ocean to see the blowing rocks (that did not blow when we were there). Mike provided an insightful history of the restoration and below holds a weathered piece of roadbed that once was part of Highway A1A, when it was located just west of the beach dune …

!!mike-renda-showing-piece-of-old-a1a

Don Schuster, shown below, take a photo of the old Highway A1A roadbed, which has been largely overtaken by seagrapes (Coccoloba uvifera) and restoration …

!!don-schuster-at-bw-taking-photo

After our beach visit, Mike took us to the on-site native plant nursery …

!!mike-renda-with-sea-oxeye-daisy-sign

From there we walked along the Indian River Lagoon to see restored areas that are not open to the general public but are enjoyed by birds including this juvenile white ibis …

!!rhizophora-mangle-at-bw-restoration

Large nursery-grown red mangroves (Avicenna germinans) were installed to stabilize the shoreline of the Indian River Lagoon that has been heavily impacted by the Australian pine trees (Casuarina sp.) that once monopolized the entire site.

A few Australian pines were left standing “for the birds” along the Indian River Lagoon, and we saw two osprey nests with young …

!!ospreys2

!!osprey-at-bw

Seaside purslane (Sesuvium portulacastrum) was a frequent ground cover and festooned this Australian pine trunk …

!!sesuvium-portuculcastrum-on-casaurina-trunk1

Restoration efforts were phased, and near the beach where the Australian pines were first removed, only small, easily overlooked, relics of the Australian pine trees remain …

Indian River County is applying for grant funding to remove the Australian pine trees at the northern end of the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area adjacent to the Forest Park subdivision. Keep your fingers crossed!

Infestation with invasive pest plants, of course, continues at Blowing Rocks. The Nature Conservancy has worked with adjacent property owners within a 1/4 mile radius of the Preserve to remove invasive pest plants from their properties.

With restoration nearing completion, invasive pest plant control needs have been minimized. Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolious) and carrotwood (Cupaniopsis anacardiodies) continue to “pop up” …

And, these pest plants sometimes escape detection to grow up into the hammock canopy …

The restoration efforts at Blowing Rocks provide an instructive and inspiring example of what can be accomplished with a well-planned, staged approach rather than expansive, well-intentioned efforts.

We sure did enjoy our visit to Blowing Rocks and the opportunity to find out its amazing restoration from its patient “architect” Mike Renda.