Archives for Community Involvement

Community Involvement

Johnson Engineering Presents Findings at the ICOET Conference

This past September, Johnson Engineering’s wildlife biologist, Dr. Jennifer Korn, attended the International Conference on Ecology and Transportation (ICOET) in Sacramento, California. There she presented the results from the project Johnson Engineering recently completed for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District One. The study used remote cameras to monitor wildlife crossings and existing bridge structures for use by wildlife, especially Florida panther, Florida black bear, and white-tailed deer. This data was then analyzed in an effort to determine optimal structural design that is also the most cost-effective for future wildlife crossings and retrofitted bridges.

The conference included presentations from wildlife and transportation professionals across the globe discussing topics such as structural design of wildlife crossings, policy, and monitoring methods The conference location was of special importance as California attempts to build a new wildlife overpass (at Liberty Canyon) near Los Angeles where mountain lions struggle with loss of habitat connectivity due to large highways. Insights gained from this conference will supplement our own information gathered about wildlife usage of existing bridge structures in Florida, as Johnson Engineering continues to assist on transportation projects and future design/placement of roads and wildlife crossings.

Jennifer also provided a viewing of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition mini-trek film titled “The Last Green Thread”. This film featured her with the expedition members on location at the Reedy Creek Bridge on I-4. The film is available to view online at https://youtu.be/chjolIiforw.

For more information, contact Dr. Jennifer Korn, Ph.D. at mkt@johnsoneng.com.

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Supporting Lee County Port Authority’s Aviation Day

Johnson Engineering was a proud sponsor of Lee County Port Authority’s (LCPA) 2019 Aviation Day held in November. The annual event held at Page Field airport is a free family friendly aviation-themed affair to help highlight the value brought to our community by aviation and LCPA airports – Southwest Florida International Airport and Page Field. Among the aircrafts on display, plane and helicopter rides, local airport police and fire department personnel provided demonstrations to show how they continue to keep us safe in the skies.

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Johnson Engineering’s 14th Annual Clean up at Lovers Key State Park

FORT MYERS, FL (October 22, 2016) – More than 80 Johnson Engineering employees, their families, friends, the Friends of Lover’s Key (FOLKS) and park staff. The group pitched in on Saturday, October 22, at 9 a.m. for the 14th consecutive year. This group volunteers their time to preserve one of Florida’s natural gems, the park which bears their founder’s name, Carl E. Johnson State Park commonly referred to as Lovers Key.

This event is an opportunity for Johnson Engineering employees to make a difference in the community, while also paying tribute to the company’s founder, Carl E. Johnson. Johnson Engineering’s Coastal Cleanup began in 2003 in honor of Carl E. Johnson, whose efforts in the late 1960’s, played a major role in making this popular recreational area a reality. He conceived the idea of connecting the islands with a causeway from the south end of Fort Myers Beach to Bonita Beach, helped get most of the land donated from several large landowners, surveyed and designed the road, overcoming a variety of obstacles along the way. Today, Lovers Key/Carl E. Johnson State Park has become a world-famous tourist destination.

The company’s employees are proud of their roots and intrigued by the historical connection, so they come together each year to do their part in keeping the park looking its best. The teams dedicate the morning to cleaning and fixing up numerous areas throughout the park including removing/replacing a stairway, removing and replacing sod, exotic vegetation removal, native planting, trail trimming, and painting tram bridges. After the morning’s efforts, they enjoy a BBQ lunch in the beach pavilion, provided by the local Fort Myers beach restaurant Truly Scrumptious.

The volunteer’s efforts not only support Lovers Key State Park by keeping it looking its best for many visitors, but as a company we also choose to support the local Fort Myers Beach businesses. Throughout the years we have established relationships with Greater Fort Myers Beach businesses who sponsor our event by providing raffle items. As raffle prizes entice our employees to volunteer, they are also a great way to encourage local employees to patron the Fort Myers Beach businesses. Our raffle sponsor this year was Wyndham Garden Fort Myers Beach hotel, who provided a 3 day/2 night stay at their hotel. In addition, our caterer, Truly Scrumptious, donates extra lunch items which makes for a fulfilling meal for the volunteers after the morning’s effort.

This annual event’s volunteer efforts were previously recognized by The Friends of Florida State Parks with the Outstanding Volunteer Team of the Year Award for exceptional service and support.

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Project Aims to Jump-Start Tape Grass Growth in River

View Johnson Engineering Sr. Ecologist, David Ceilley’s News-Press interview regarding our Caloosahatchee Tape Grass Restoration project.


View the full News-Press article.

PROJECT AIMS TO JUMP-START TAPE GRASS GROWTH IN RIVER

Val is a VEC, and a $103,000 project is under way to restore it to the Caloosahatchee River.

In other words, tape grass, often known as Val, from its scientific name Vallisneria americana, is a Valued Ecosystem Component that has virtually disappeared from the river, and the South Florida Water Management District and Lee County are financing a three-year effort to bring it back.

“Tape grass is a keystone species,” said project manager Dave Ceilley, senior ecologist for Johnson Engineering. “It’s a forage base for manatees. It’s habitat for 35 to 40 fish species. Turtles and water fowl eat it. It’s important invertebrate habitat. It stabilizes sediments and removes nutrients from the water. It’s the foundation of the ecosystem of the river.”

Historically, tape grass, a freshwater species, grew in dense beds as far downstream as Whiskey Creek.

Things started going bad for Val during the wet season of 2000, when massive nutrient-laden releases down the Caloosahatchee River from Lake Okeechobee triggered algal blooms that blocked light in the river, and tape grass started dying.

Then lack of freshwater releases during the dry season allowed salt water to move upstream and kill more tape grass.

Ultimately, 2,000 acres of tape grass were wiped out downstream from Interstate 75 — nobody knows how much tape grass died upstream from I-75 because tape grass upstream was never mapped.

“People have the misconception that it’s all about water quality,” Ceilley said. “It’s not about water quality. You can’t blame everything on Lake O. This plant is very resilient. It came back.”

But it didn’t come back in dense beds, and manatees and turtles grazed the sparse tape grass plants almost down to the root.

Male tape grass plants produce flowers at the base, but female tape grass flowers form at the top of the plant, so if the tops of all the plants are eaten, the plants can’t reproduce.

“Manatees and turtles graze tape grass down just like a lawn mower,” Ceilley said. “It’s like mowing your lawn too short.”

For tape grass plants to grow to reproductive size, the grazers need to be kept away, and that’s what the present project is doing by planting tape grass in the river and enclosing the plants in cages.

On Monday, Ceilley and a team from Sea and Shoreline LLC, which built the cages being used in the project, planted tape grass at four sites in the Caloosahatchee River upstream from the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam.

A minimum of 10 plants were placed in each of 40, .96-cubic-yard metal cages (previous studies have showed that metal cages last longer than PVC, and 10 plants is a good number for each cage).

“What we’re trying to do is give the tape grass a jump-start,” Ceilley said. “We want to keep the grazers away to the point where the female plants can produce flowers.”

Plants for the project came from Lake Trafford, where FGCU faculty and students planted tape grass in 2008. In that project, 30 1-meter plots grew to 73 acres in five years — cages weren’t used at Lake Trafford because no manatees live in the lake, and alligators keep turtle populations down.

If the tape grass in the project begins to reproduce, they’ll create a seed source that could start tape grass beds downstream.

Lake Trafford tape grass has a different genetic signature from grass already growing in the river, and genetics tests will be performed on grass in the river to determine what strain it is.

“It’s a way of tracking the growth of what we planted,” Ceilley said. “Did it spread out? If so, how far did it spread? Is it below the lock? The whole goal is to have a seed source upstream so, when they open the lock, it will flow downstream.”

The water district is putting $83,000 toward the project, while Lee County is adding $20,000.

“The bottom line is water quality in the Caloosahatchee; we’re all about that,” said Kurt Harclerode, operations manager for the Lee County Division of Natural Resources. “Tape grass is down at the bottom of the food chart, and it’s a good barometer of the health of the estuary. If we have thriving tape grass, it will support all the critters that need that. It will also indicate we’re doing OK with salinity levels.”

This three-year project won’t be the end of tape grass work in the river: Ceilley has applied for $2.4 million in BP oil spill grants to restore Val from the Orange River to Whiskey Creek; partners in that project will probably include Johnson Engineering, FGCU, the University of Florida, Fort Myers and the Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association.

“I’ve been working with tape grass out here since 2001,” Ceilley said. “We know what works. We don’t need more studies. We need to act.”

 

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Johnson Engineering Employees Heed Habitat for Humanity’s Call

Children in need of medical care will soon have access to a larger, full-service, state-of-the-art facility right here in Southwest Florida. Many children have to travel to Tampa or Miami to receive the specialized treatment they need, but once completed, this new facility will offer some relief and alleviate some of the travel stress burdening these families.

Johnson Engineering has been a part of the Southwest Florida community for 68 years and our employees have always shown interest in the many ways we can give back to our community. When Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties said they were looking to partner with local businesses to volunteer to build a home for a family in our community, our employees heeded the call.

On Saturday, May 5, nine Johnson Engineering employees and their family members spent the day at a Habitat Home construction site in Fort Myers. Their tasks included such things as drilling, sawing, measuring, and scraping all in order to prepare this Habitat house to be lived in by a deserving family.

Not only does this benefit a family, but it also provides a positive team-building experience for our employees. We hope our efforts will encourage other companies to follow suit and promote their own company volunteer day. It was a rewarding experience for all.

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11th Annual Coastal Clean Up at Lovers Key State Park

FORT MYERS, FL (October 19, 2013) – The community spirit is alive and well for nearly 65 Johnson Engineering employees, families, friends, the Friends of Lover’s Key (FOLKS) and park staff.  This dedicated group pitched in on Saturday, October 19th, at 9 a.m. for the 11th consecutive year.   This group volunteered their time to preserve one of Florida’s natural gems, the park which bears our founder’s name, Carl E. Johnson/Lovers Key State Park.

This is an opportunity for Johnson Engineering employees to make a difference in the community while also paying tribute to our Company’s founder, Carl E. Johnson. Johnson Engineering’s Coastal Cleanup began in 2003 in honor of Carl E. Johnson, whose efforts in the late 1960’s, played a major role in making this popular recreational area a reality. He conceived the idea of connecting the islands with a causeway from the south end of Fort Myers Beach to Bonita Beach, helped get most of the land donated from several large landowners, surveyed and designed the road, overcoming a variety of obstacles along the way. Today, Lovers Key/Carl E. Johnson State Park has become a world famous tourist destination.

Our employees are proud of their roots and intrigued by the historical connection, so they come together each year to do their part in keeping the park looking its best. Teams dedicated the morning to cleaning and fixing up numerous areas throughout the park including building recycle bins, replacing kiosk roofing, construction of bridge handrails, constructing protected area rope fencing, trail trimming, and planting. After the morning’s efforts, we enjoy a BBQ lunch in the beach pavilion.

Our efforts not only support Lovers Key State Park by keeping it looking its best for their many visitors, but we also were supported by local Fort Myers Beach businesses. We established relationships with Greater Fort Myers Beach businesses that sponsor our event by providing raffle items. As raffle prizes not only enticed our employees to volunteer; they also encouraged our local employees to patron the Fort Myers Beach businesses.  This year the Fort Myers Beach raffle sponsors were, Bayfront Bistro, Estero Bay Express II, The Fish House, Matanzas Inn Restaurant, and the Pieces of Eight Pirate Cruise. Our BBQ lunch was also be provided from the local Fort Myers beach restaurant Truly Scrumptious.

This annual effort was also previously recognized by The Friends of Florida State Parks with the Outstanding Volunteer Team of the Year Award for exceptional service and support.

For more information, visit the News-Press to view video of the event: http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013310200041.

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Johnson Engineering Receives Community Service Award

Johnson Engineering received first place recognition from the City of Fort Myers for the successful efforts cleaning Carrell Canal through the City’s Adopt-A-Canal program. Throughout the last two years employee volunteers participated in quarterly cleanings and removed 29 cubic yards of trash and debris from the canal, the most removed by the seven other firms participating in the program.

This initiative began as a way to decrease the amount of litter from 10 canals throughout the City’s stormwater system, ultimately helping to improve the water quality of the Caloosahatchee River.

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