The 12,000-acre Disney Wilderness Preserve straddles the headwaters of the Everglades ecosystem in south-central Florida. This site is seasonally wet and flooded.
Site history & management
The Disney site was heavily logged and used as ranchland for decades. However, vegetation and site conditions have been restored to closely represent site condition records, documented by the area’s first Spanish missionaries. The large-scale wetland and upland restoration at Disney included the removal of non-native, invasive plants and grasses and the removal of agricultural ditches. The primary management activity is controlled burns.
The predominant ecosystem type is restored wet prairie with regenerating longleaf pine; vegetation cover at Disney site is primarily restored broom sedge prairie, interspersed with perennial grasses. The Disney site is composed of short gasses ranging from 1-1.5 meters in height on average, interspersed with longleaf pine sapling that are less than 30 cm tall on average. Some pine forests surround the east, northeast and southeast edges of the prairie, with an average height of 25 meters. Dominant vegetation types within the Disney Wilderness Preserve include:
- Pine Flatwoods
- Southern Coastal Plain Non-riverine Cypress Dome
- Florida Dry Prairie
The dominant perennial grass at the site is wiregrass (Aristida stricta Michx.), with numerous other species of perennial grasses also present, including:
- Andropogon sp
- Bottlebrush threeawn (Aristida spiciformis)
- Broom sedge (Andropogon virginicus)
The dominant soil type is Smyrna fine sand.
Data from this particular location supports greater understanding of wetland regeneration, water storage and quality, and predictive models for future large-scale restorations.