Lakewood Ranch’s conservation areas span hundreds of acres. The task of maintaining these wetlands and preserves lie with each Community Development District. The level of maintenance is ultimately dictated by each District’s elected officials in accordance with permit requirements. Manatee County holds an easement over all conservation areas found within the Community Development Districts. The county sets forth the standards and limitations for maintenance within these easements under their land development code. The conservation areas in Lakewood Ranch are critically important in filtering nutrients and pollutants from landscape fertilizers and other sources before entering the Braden River system. The wetlands and buffers provide essential habitat for wetland-dependant wildlife in the area. All of the wetlands within Lakewood Ranch are protected by Manatee County’s Land Development Code.
Numerous wetlands received an elevated level of maintenance associated with areas that were planted with native species (mitigation). These areas were maintained regularly to exclude nuisance species until natives became established as part of the development order. This allowed Schroeder Manatee Ranch to construct the development you reside in. Maintenance was more frequent in these particular conservation areas until their acceptance by Manatee County. All District mitigation areas have been released from formal ongoing maintenance requirements. However, since they must retain their native functions in perpetuity, the CDD’s continue to maintain them as necessary.
As stated earlier Lakewood Ranch is governed by Manatee County’s Land Development Code section 719 Wetland Protection which states:
719.7.2 Prohibited activities in wetland buffers at minimum should include: The removal or other disturbance of any earth, trees, shrubbery and other plants.
Lakewood Ranch CDD’s, in efforts to remain good environmental stewards, recognize the need to remove nuisance and exotic species within these conservation areas. Manatee County’s Land Development does allow hand removal of nuisance and exotics by the District.
719.7.3 (e) Allowable activities in wetland buffers: the removal of nuisance or exotic plant species, such as Brazilian pepper, Australian pine, or Melaleuca, or noxious endemic vegetation such as poison ivy from wetland buffer.
Any disturbance of the conservation areas by anyone other than Lakewood Ranch staff or District selected environmental contractors will be considered a Manatee County violation and could result in fines. Homeowners are allowed to maintain to the extent of their property boundaries if conservation areas begin to encroach.
The goal of Lakewood Ranch District operations and maintenance department is to remove as many exotics as our resources allow during the current fiscal year. This includes some monies budgeted for outside qualified contactors to perform exotic control in these conservation areas.
With available resources our objectives are listed below.
Focus resources on control of exotic plant species behind residential homes.
Maintain conservation areas within their jurisdictional boundaries. Typically not going further than approximately 3 feet into the conservation areas for exotic control.
Utilize available resources among the Districts as equitably as possible.
Communicate to residents prior to performing exotic plant control/removal in their respective neighborhoods.