2016 was the wettest year at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area (ORCA) since the preserve was purchased in 1991. During the seasonal fall high tides, the trail usually floods near the coastal wetlands — but not at the junction of the hammock loop trail and the “turn-off” to the rest of the trail system shown above on 1/30/2016.
Even the trails in the scrubby pine flatwoods, the “high and dry ground, ” were flooded …
Natural areas provide flood protection and many other social “ecosystem services“. Flood insurance rates for the surrounding area were reduced when Indian River County and St. Johns Water Management District purchased the 298 acres on the north side of Oslo Road in 1991, which included:
- 233 acres of coastal wetlands
- 40 acres of hammock
- 24 acres of scrubby pine flatwoods
- ~1 acre of freshwater wetlands
The wet conditions of 2016 encouraged the growth of epiphytes especially Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) and of water-loving plants like herb-of-grace (Bacopa monnieri) shown below in brackish water …
Natural areas protect public health and safety!