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RS&H is providing engineering and environmental services to improve wetlands within the Baird Tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest. The project area is part of the Green Swamp, an ecologically sensitive and protected area due to the role it plays in the state’s drinking water supply.
The project will mitigate 23.3 acres of wetland impacts associated with the Florida Department of Transportation’s SR 44 project by restoring water levels in approximately 2,500 acres. The restoration will also restore historic hydroperiods, natural sheetflow, and drainage patterns, as well as address the drainage of some wetlands and excess surface water along roadside swales caused by manmade ditching.
RS&H is responsible for all phases of this project, including planning, engineering design, permitting, and construction. The planning phase encompasses data collection, stakeholder coordination, and the characterization and model development of existing conditions. The team used Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), a remote sensing system, to collect topographic data, as well as ground-truthing and surveying methodologies to verify elevations. The team also used continuous recorders to collect water level data on an hourly basis, which provided a real-time record of hydrological conditions.
Improving wetlands can enhance water quality, increase onsite storage of surface water, and improve wildlife habitat. The entire watershed will benefit from the restoration and is likely to become more ecologically valuable.
Sumter County, Florida
Florida Department of Environmental Protection