Wellington will match the grant to invest a total of $1.4 million to restore the site, known as the Moncada property, along Flying Cow Road, to a wetland, which will protect homes and businesses in Wellington’s west from flooding.
The money will cover the cost of removing invasive species, planting 700 native Florida trees on the 45 acres and integrating the land into the 410-acre preserve. It will also finance the development of hiking and equestrian trails, picnic tables, a wildlife observation area and a learning center with a botanical garden.
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a Democratic congresswoman from West Palm Beach, announced the grant on Jan. 25, saying the federal government was happy to partner with Wellington “to restore your urban forest.”
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Village council member Michael Napoleone said the grant demonstrates Wellington’s commitment to environmental management and sustainability.
“It really is a gem,” Napoleon said of the Wellington Environmental Reserve.
For the past 10 years, the Moncada property has sat unused and overrun by invasive species.
Scott Fletcher, a village staff member known as “the guardian of the preserve,” said the multi-year project will begin by clearing the land of any overgrown vegetation and installing water pumps.
Fletcher said the 410 acres of the Wellington Environmental Reserve were once farmland donated or purchased by the village and rehabilitated to their original wetland functions. The 45 acres will give Wellington an additional 30 million gallons of stormwater storage.
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