The NFI featured sufficient detail to satisfy state requirements for development approval, including listed species and wildlife surveys in accordance with the “Wildlife Methodology Guidelines for Completion of the Application for Development Approval.”
The listed species and associated habitat identified included the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) and bent golden aster (Pityopsis flexuosa). Permits were obtained for the relocation of the gopher tortoises and development of a Habitat Management Plan (HMP) for an 80 acre on-site preservation area, i.e. Habitat Management Area (HMA).
Cardno developed the HMP by evaluating and comparing existing site conditions to those that occurred historically. HMA habitat restoration tasks included writing contractor bid specifications, monitoring schedule, and maintenance plan incorporating:
- herbicide treatment of non-native nuisance and exotic plant species
- canopy thinning
- mowing, and
- prescribed burns.
Cardno oversaw the implementation of the HMP that included removal of hardwood trees, thinning of pine trees, and coordination/oversite of controlled burns. Cardno conducts annual listed species surveys, exotic species maintenance, and monitoring of the HMA to determine success levels and recommend future management activities to maximize habitat values for gopher tortoises and other listed species.
To date, Cardno’s efforts have increased the gopher tortoise density/acre within the HMA from 0.21 to 0.70.