Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Suntree Property Tour

Anita invited me out today to take a look at the Suntree Property that we would like to include as a research site for our follow up project after Costa Rica.  When I spoke to our group about the possibility of using the project, the biggest concern was the safety of the camera traps, so I paid special attention to fences and gates.  The first gate was unlocked, but looks like it could be secured during the study.  
There was another fence inside of that, and again it looked like it could be easily secured.  
I went out with a camera and a notebook,  but I should have worn long pants, the grasses were quite high.  The county used to mow the area, but they stopped when they considered putting it up for sale.  Wouldn't this be an interesting succession study? 
It is hard to see what the property really looks like in a photo, but it is technically a Rapid Infiltration Basin (RIB).  My understanding is that it was left undeveloped to act as a reservoir for water during storms.  The last time it was used was during Tropical Storm Fay which was in 2008.  There are 6 large basins of equal size laid out in a grid.  Around each basin is a raised area where the gopher tortoises prefer to burrow.  
I counted 35 burrows while we were there, though we only walked around the edge of half of the 114 acres.  
I made sure to get a photo of any gates or breaks in the fence.  This was the first one I noticed.  It is still behind the wooden fence, but looks like it could easily be closed and locked.  
In some areas the fence backed right up to backyards, but for the most part there was a buffer of scrub and trees.
So many burrows!
It looked like there were some paths that the county used when it came in to maintain the land.
And still more burrows.....
 Another break in the fence...
More paths for vehicle access....
Several miscellaneous plumbing fixtures.
A giant burrow!
One more gate.
A very large stack of plumbing that apparently sprung a leak recently and had to be repaired.
Several signs warning of reclaimed water.
This was my interesting find of the day.  I was concerned about a break in the fence,  though it seemed to back up to trees and scrub.
I thought there might be a path though, so we followed it through.
And popped out in someone's back yard.  This is apparently the easement that the county used to access the property.  Anita thinks it would make a great access point for a walking trail.
Finally we made it all the way down to the other end of the property.  Anita has so many plans as to how to put this land to use for education and preservation in both the long and short term.  I am a bit more focused on the short term goals of security and study, but I am so glad that here energy and enthusiasm are driving this project.

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