A barge with materials and workers has become commonplace at Blue Spring Run in Orange City.
Andi Risi, vice president of project management for Sea & Shoreline, a Florida-based company, said he and others have been working to stabilize shoreline areas of the Blue Spring Run, repairing both undermined and collapsed banks.
“The project is spring restoration, more about the embankments,” he said. “Over the years, the embankments have been eroded from people walking up and down them, and weather over the years.”
Dr. Risi, who earned a Ph.D. in marine geology and geology physics, said the area is about 1,500 linear feet and that area of need or on the north and south side of the bank. Again, the work is being done from the water.
There’s a site setup area and staging area that is fenced off within the park, he said. Workers spent time clearing some of the trees that had fallen – clearing and grubbing. Materials to be used in the construction include limestone boulders, gravel, coir logs, hardwood logs and plantings, he said.
“There will be four layers stabilizing the bank,” he said. “On the top, the coir coconut husk is rolled into a roll. They look like giant Tootsie Rolls. We’ll put those on top and have native plants planted on it.”
Blue Spring Park is nearly 2,400 acres and has about 600,000 visitors annually as well as hundreds of manatees from January to March.
In the end, Dr. Risi said, “This will be safer for manatees, for kayakers, for the people coming and visiting and enjoying the Spring. Before the Spring area was undercut, like caves and people and manatees could get stuck in there. It’s really a safety thing as well as to stop sedimentation of the Spring area.”
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission funded design and permitting of the project as well as the construction on the Spring Run, said Lisa Thompson, a public relations specialist for the FWC's Division of Habitat and Species Conservation. The project has been in the works for several years.
“Current construction work on the Spring Run is valued at $529,144.91,” Ms. Thompson said. “Funding has not yet been secured for proposed improvements in the Spring Head area.”
Michael Watkins, Blue Spring Park manager, said it’s a welcome relief to see the job come about.
“It’s a natural process the way the company and FFWCC are approaching it. They are doing more of a natural process,” Mr. Watkins said. “It’s going to be better for the Spring Run in the long run.”
Dr. Risi said construction is scheduled to continue through July, maybe a little sooner, depending on the weather.