Vizcaya Southern Lagoon & Northern Canal Tidal Swamp Landscape Environmental Restoration
Vizcaya Gardens and Museum, built in 1915 by Industrialist James Deering, was acquired in 1952 by Miami-Dade County and is a US Historic National Landmark site. Devastation from Hurricanes Wilma and Katrina in 2005 wreaked havoc on the gardens and grounds, designed for Deering by the Columbian Landscape Architect Diego Suarez, resulting in debris and sedimentation blockages in the canal and tidal pond system that connects to Biscayne Bay. Nuisance and exotic species infestations, and declining water quality from a loss of tidal flushing has resulted in a loss of fish and wading bird usage of the gardens and waterways. Rare coastal hammock hardwood forest habitat was also destroyed.
Ms. Colbert was project manager working with landscape architects and engineers to develop a multi-disciplinary landscape architecture and environmental restoration plan for the waterways and tidal pool which balances ecological function with creative landscape aesthetics, recreational functions and values, and improvements to water quality, and planting designs based on historic flora inventories — including mangroves, native hardwood hammock and coastal scrub species.
Ms. Colbert worked with the project engineer to develop design plans to dredge the south canal at Vizcaya. A collapsed retaining wall at the mouth of the south canal, in addition to encroachment of mangroves and other emergent wetland vegetation, through the deposition of organic material and the capturing of sediments by their roots, has resulted in interruptions to the intended tidal fluctuations within the canal. Permits required include a Class I Permit from Miami-Dade County PERA, a permit exemption from FDEP and a Letter of Permission (LOP) from USACE to conduct maintenance dredging activities involving the removal of approximately 1,410 cubic yards of silt and sediments from the bottom of the canal. The objective of this project is to enhance and restore lost hydrologic and biological functions to the canal.
From the personal portfolio of Gisele Colbert