In the late 1950s, thousands of acres of undeveloped land were purchased in Collier County, Florida with the intention of developing the world's largest subdivision, the Golden Gate Estates (GGE).
An extensive canal system was excavated to drain surface waters and provide fill for the development, and to prevent flooding during the summer wet season. Additionally, a grid-like pattern of roads was constructed, dividing GGE into northern and southern portions.
The northern portion became a fast-growing residential community, but the approximately 85 square mile southern section - referred to as the Southern Golden Gate Estates (SGGE) - remained essentially undeveloped.
Construction of the canal and road systems altered the drainage patterns by lowering surface and subsurface water levels and diverting this water to point-source discharges in estuaries. A number of studies were undertaken to assess the extent of the hydrological and ecological impacts on the landscape and an extensive land acquisition effort eventually ensued in SGGE.
Plans for the hydrological restoration were developed and included the removal of the majority of the road network as well as the filling and/or plugging much of the canal system. The plan also addresses the need for determining ecological change as a measure of success for the restoration.
The purpose of this study was to obtain baseline data on the species of wildlife that would most likely to be affected by the hydrologic restoration of SGGE and these ecological data could then be used to assess the effects of restoration efforts.
Detailed surveys were performed to determine the vegetative characteristics along with classification of the hydrologic conditions at the SGGE sampling sites.
Taxa surveyed includes: small mammals, fish, terrestrial and aquatic macroinvertebrates, anurans [frogs & toads], and birds.
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