Apalachicola Riverkeeper, in coordination with the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve (ANERR), is developing a management plan for the new Franklin County Public Library site in Eastpoint. The project is funded in part by the Northwest Florida Water Management District.

The Riverkeeper and ANERR are working closely with the Friends of the Franklin County Public Library to establish the optimum management plan for the site. The project includes developing onsite environmental educational opportunities, including a trail.

In December 2012, Apalachicola Riverkeeper worked with Ian Barlow, a contract restoration specialist in low impact land management, to evaluate the site’s long-term vegetation management plan and initiate the first phase of site preparation to reduce underbrush and thin trees.

Work on the site by Apalachicola Riverkeeper and ANERR is slated to resume in mid-March. “We plan to continue fuel reduction of underbrush and thinning of some trees in order to enhance the wetland and optimize the natural community’s habitat function,” said Dan Tonsmeire, the Riverkeeper’s executive director. “We also plan to clear a 15-foot buffer along the property boundaries adjacent to the library site to allow management of vegetation and for fire prevention purposes.”

Benefits of fuel reduction and thinning include prevention of wildfires and reduction of fire hazards to homeowners. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued an exemption permit for this activity in April 2012 to the Friends of the Franklin County Public Library. Thurman Roddenberry & Associates Surveyors completed the site survey and marked the property boundaries.

When the library is finished, it will offer the community not only an expanded, modern space for collections and programs, but educational nature walks over the protected wetlands.

The Apalachicola Riverkeeper is a 1200-plus member non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and stewardship of the Apalachicola River and Bay. For more informationcall 653-8936.