Long-term Planning & Ecosystem Restoration

Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Recreation and Parks (DRP)

Overview

Since 2015, F4 Tech has assisted DRP in managing approximately 800,000 acres across 175 state parks, preserves, and reserves. Long-term planning and natural resources management services have included:

  • Mapping entire land base to supplement current data layers maintained by DRP.
  • Designing and implementing a comprehensive forest/vegetation inventory program.
  • Developing an ecosystem condition scoring system
  • Syncing field data to the cloud (nearly real time), processing collected data, and running reports, summaries, and analytics.
  • Assisting with park-level management plan development.
  • Assisting with annual land/natural resources project planning and implementation.
  • Assisting with ecosystem restoration projects focused on longleaf pine and associated understory vegetation.

Details

F4 Tech has quantified forest/vegetation conditions in portions of 65 state parks by inventorying 33,000 plots. The collected on-site data represents approximately 200,000 acres of uplands typically maintained by prescribed fire. This baseline dataset is being used to help quantify current conditions and support future natural resources management decisions. Specifically, F4 Tech developed a system for objectively scoring current/baseline ecosystem conditions and comparing those conditions against corresponding benchmarks or targets. These scores have been correlated with condition classes that can be used to develop categorical snapshots of area-specific conditions (excellent – very poor).

A considerable amount of highly integrated work has occurred at one park. The Torreya State Park Sandhill Restoration Program was initially developed by DRP and The Nature Conservancy. Starting in 2016, F4 Tech has been serving as lead administrator for subcontracted work, e.g., market and harvest off-site pine, site preparation, longleaf pine seedling purchase and planting, and wiregrass/native seed mix cleaning.

Outcomes

Ecosystem condition scores have been integrated into a data-driven simulation planning tool (developed by F4 Tech) that allows the user to dynamically query data and run multiple “what if” treatment-scheduling scenarios. Regarding on-the-ground management, F4 Tech has been directly involved with evaluating nearly 300 potential projects across Florida and helped DRP set records regarding the number of acres treated/improved via timber harvests, mechanical vegetation treatments, invasive/exotic species control (mainly via herbicide applications), and prescribed burning. F4 Tech continues to help DRP increase the number of acres cycling through the restoration process at Torreya State Park.

Project status: Ongoing annual data collection, software development, field project management, and specialized consulting services.