T. McIntyre, MS, CEP, University of Florida IFAS Extension Seminole County, Sanford, FL, USA and K. McCormick, University of Florida IFAS Extension Seminole County, Sanford, FL, USA
Situation: The Rolling Hills Park project is a Florida Communities Trust (FCT) grant to convert a non-operational golf course to a passive park. Seminole County purchased the 98-acre golf course in August 2018 and maintains the property. The goal of this repurpose project is to apply sound urban ecology design principles to the development of a nature-based recreation park and urban conservation habitat.
Methods: Through partnership funding from UF facilitated by the FFL Agent, three UF students (one undergraduate and two master’s) developed a plan for the park in summer of 2019. Project aspects included:
- selection of commercially available plant species,
- total site soil testing,
- principles for creating habitat
- coexisting with wildlife
- and a master plan of plant communities and recreation amenities to foster a visually pleasing, urban conservation space.
Results: Under the direction of the FFL Agent and other advisors the students created a Rolling Hills handbook, which outlined the details of their recommendations. At the end of the semester the results were presented to integral county staff, decision makers and UF advisors. The county staff was very excited about their work and has since integrated the plan into their master-site planning and implementation. Later in 2019 it was provided to county consultants and other key players in the project.
Conclusion: The students used the urban ecological model to address both human activities and conservation needs. They did it in a way that was practical and helpful to the county staff, who were grateful and recognized the value of their work at over $30,000. Additionally, their diligent work will be incorporated into the implementation of the park as the plans are funded annually through the county’s capital improvements budget. The FFL Agent will continue to work and collaborate on this project.