The Lemon Bay Preserve creates 8.4 acres of estuarine wetlands, doubling the size of the existing tarpon nursery area, creating 5.2 acres of freshwater wetlands, and enhancing an additional 5.3 acres of existing freshwater wetland areas.
Abandoned since 2006 and overrun with non-native vegetation, this site’s lower elevation pond is recognized as one of the region’s most productive nurseries for tarpon. Lemon Bay Conservancy (LBC) purchased the parcel to preserve the property for tarpon spawning as well as to create a nature preserve. But the non-profit organization lacked the funds and technical expertise to proceed with the wholesale restoration of the former golf course.
ESA formulated an ecosystem design plan for the restoration of an 80-acre former golf course along Lemon Bay. This included helping the Lemon Bay Conservancy secure funding from Southwest Florida Water Management District, then designing and permitting the overall site restoration plan.
ESA conducted environmental assessments, established wetland jurisdictional limits, mapped remnant existing native habitats, and developed a master plan for the entire site. The project’s primary objective was to expand the existing tarpon nursery areas, create oligohaline conditions for other recreationally important fish and avifaunal species, improve the quality of stormwater runoff entering the preserve and ultimately discharging into the bay, and create a new nature preserve for the neighborhood residents.