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ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla.-- Smack dab in the middle of the Indian River Lagoon in St. Lucie County sits Wesley’s Island. It’s one of the spoil islands, that’s man made from dredging and now serves as natural recreational site.
“Visible from every shoreline here in downtown Fort Pierce. Visible from the causeways,” said St. Lucie County Natural Resources Manager Mike Middlebrook.
He took us out on a boat to see the island’s latest restoration work.
“The island has always been critical for wading birds,” he said.
Over the past four years, invasive species have been removed. Cabbage palms line the shore.
“So we went from two species of trees; Brazilian pepper and Australian pine to having planted 50 native species on the island,” Middlebrook said.
The island’s lagoon is a buffet for those wading birds, and there’s an effort to draw more wildlife. “It’s an osprey nesting platform, so we hope they’ll start using that," he said.
But not every improvement is for the birds.
Part of the next phase is the creation of outdoor classrooms so that local summer camps can come out and enjoy the island.
“For future generations to learn what the lagoon could look like, what it should look like,” he said.
The money for the project came from several organizations including the St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners, and funds from the Indian River Lagoon license plate.
If you’re interested, the county is always looking for volunteers who can help with island cleanup and maintenance.