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The first phase of the Banana Creek Marsh restoration was completed in 2008. The marsh area is composed of about 400 acres. This first phase filled in old ditches and planted the area with native vegetation, providing new and enhanced nesting and foraging sites for a variety of birds. Next to State Road 540, pines have been heavily planted to create a future tree canopy to shade out non-native plant species. In the future, a more natural habitat will be created by removing some of the pines to allow native plants to grow.
Polk County's subtropical climate provides the perfect weather for a number of non-native species to survive. Non-native species are plants or animals that do not naturally occur here and removal of these species is on going. These plants can become invasive without their natural predators, and can quickly out compete and grow over native species. This takes away the diversity of plants, and lowers the value of the habitat for wildlife.
As part of the upland restoration along Eagle Roost trail, prescribed burns are conducted to mimic the historical wildfire before this area became urbanized. These burns assist with restoration of the habitats. The plants and wildlife have adapted to these fire-maintained conditions, and some require fire to reproduce. Prescribed burns are thoroughly planned by trained professionals. Smoke management, winds and weather all play a vital role in conducting a prescribed burn.
Central Florida is the lightning capital of the U.S., and more lightning strikes occur here than anywhere else.