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Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Programs Quick Links

Intertidal areas of disturbance are prime areas for nuisance plant species to become established. Mangrove shorelines and areas with disturbance are prone to invasion by exotic pest plant species. The 200 feet of shoreline at the Biscayne Bay Environmental Center (BBEC), where BBAP offices are located, has Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebenthifolius), seaside mahoe (Thespia populnea), umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla), and Australian pines (Causurina equisetifolia) growing alongside red (Rhizophora mangle), white (Laguncularia racemosa), black (Avicennia germinans), and half flower (Scaevola taccada). Staff at the BBEC developed and implemented a plan to remove these invasive trees and to chemically treat them to prevent their re-growth without harming the adjacent water resources. These invasive species are expanding their ranges through efficient reproduction and seed dispersal.

Biscayne Bay Environmental Center

The Biscayne Bay Environmental Center

More than 30 islands in Biscayne Bay were created back in the early 1900s as a result of dredging operations to create the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIWW) and other navigable channels and harbors and there are three natural islands in the bay. The spoil material that was extracted from the dredged areas was used to create islands near the AIWW. Most of these "spoil" islands are in public ownership, either by an adjacent municipality, the county or the state. These islands do offer habitat for wildlife and birds, but eroding shorelines, exotic vegetation and debris washing ashore have degraded the habitat services offered by the islands as well as decreased the public’s ability to recreate on them. Through financial support from several sources, restoration of these islands has been ongoing for nearly 20 years. Various habitats have been restored including one mile of dunes, 12 acres of mangroves (wetlands), 11 acres of coastal strand and 38 acres of tropical hardwood hammock.

DERM's Coastal Habitat Restoration Program Coordinator has also directed restoration efforts on land. The largest restoration project was within Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, where invasive exotic Australian pines replaced native vegetation. Approximately 380 acres of Key Biscayne's native vegetation was filled from material dredged from Biscayne Bay in the 1950s. After Hurricane Andrew in 1992 left few Australian pines standing, DERM joined with Florida Park Service Staff and the American Littoral Association to recreate 75 acres of mangrove wetlands in addition to restoring freshwater wetlands, hammocks, and dunes. DERM worked with Deering Estate staff to restore Chicken Key after a sixteen foot storm surge washed over the natural island during Hurricane Andrew. DERM projects stripped exotic plant species from the spoil islands within the northern part of Biscayne Bay and restored them with natives, and stabilized their shorelines with riprap to reduced sources of turbidity.

Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves

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Last updated: June 27, 2014

  3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 235 Tallahassee, Florida 32399 850-245-2094
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