fence base

Wildlife Underpass Notes, 2015

Notes on eco-passage visit. Matt Aresco is the land manager for Nokuse Plantation who is responsible for the wildlife underpasses that I visited with the Wildlife Corridor expedition on March 3, 2015.

I asked if there was a camera recording wildlife use of the underpass. There is no wildlife cam. Nokuse has no money or resources to study or monitor use of underpasses. They do have security on Nokuse that checks tracks and poaching. He is not concerned with hikers since the Florida Trail Hwy 331 Extension is on Eglin AFB land parallel to the highway. The trail comes through Nokuse and crosses Hwy 331. On the west side, near Owl's Head Rd. the trail heads north and ends away from underpasses.

Matt wanted to make the fence impervious to all wildlife, including snakes, frogs and other tiny things. But that created issues of drainage for the Department of Transportation (DOT) carrying out plans when constructing the highway. With that compromise the project was easily completed. Matt told of a previous wildlife crossing he was responsible for in Jacksonville, where there are gates that open under pressure of water and close with no pressure. That fence does channel all wildlife. The Jacksonville project was complicated. It took lots of negotiation and years to complete.

fencing: above is standard  DOT, below is finer wildlife barrier, buried 2 feet underground

Fencing adjacent to the highway channels wildlife to the underpasses. The fence wire is standard DOT. Nokuse required an additional barrier wire of finer grid about 4' high with 2' buried in the ground.

fence to bridge edge wireAlso Matt added an additional wire interface to fill a gap between the fence wood and the bridge concrete. There are three openings (not two). DOT wanted right of way for the highway and traded that for the underpasses that Nokuse wanted. It required build up, a massive amount of fill to raise the highway over the underpass.

The eco-passage follows a natural drainage area, where water flows from higher ground east in Nokuse down to Four Mile Creek west in Eglin AFB. That's why there is a field of rocks to stabilize the soil above (east) of the opening.

ground-stabilizing rocks

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