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North Port Natural Resources Division embarks on new project at Canine Club Dog Park

Team focused on re-wilding gopher tortoise habitats
Gopher Tortoise
Posted at 8:09 PM, Feb 09, 2024

NORTH PORT, Fla. — The Canine Club Dog Park in North Port on Appomattox Drive will start to look a bit different.

The newly-established Natural Resources Division will work to ensure gopher tortoises and other natural habitats thrive around the dog park.

"Here we have an area that's basically mold grass, and there are a few boroughs that are present," said North Port Natural Resources Manager Stefan Kalev. "We want to make this area a more functional habitat where we intend to plant native Florida species, and rewild the area so it will serve a better function for wildlife."

It's one of the Natural Resources Division's newest projects.

The team will focus on attracting more wildlife to part of the dog park, while also providing a safe space for gopher tortoises to nestle in boroughs.

"Our idea is to rewild it, replant it with all the natural species, and that would attract the birds, and all the other critters that have lived here for many years and have evolved with the ecosystem," North Port Environment Planner Liz Blessing said.

The Tree Fund is paying for the project.

"So, the idea of The Tree Fund is when someone removes and mitigates trees, it's not a total loss," Blessing said. "We can put the trees back and create forests or tree areas in other parts of the city."

The team said it's still in the beginning stages. However, they said it's all about planning ahead for our next generation.

"We like to see a more balanced approach," Kalev said. "Taking everything out, but also trying to preserve and trying to leave something for future generations to enjoy as far as habitat and wildlife."

The new division also wants plenty of thoughts from neighbors, making time to meet and go over the best plans for the future of the park.

The public is encouraged to attend the Natural Resources Division listening tour Feb. 20 at the Morgan Family Community Center. You can go at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m.