Southeast Soils is in the process of permitting the Goose Prairie property in Lake County in order to harvest the peat from the site
and restore the prairie back to the vibrant open water habitat that it once was.

Florida peat is created when wetland vegetation fills up an ancient lake bed. Because the environment is wet and anaerobic the plant fibers do not rot as they would in the surrounding areas. This anaerobic environment helps preserves the plant fibers.

Florida peat is formed from reeds and sedges. Other forms of peat, such as Canadian peat, form from sphagnum moss on massive bogs. Harvesting Florida peat looks very different when compared to the dry, dusty conditions in a Canadian peat bog.

While peat harvesting in other parts of the world can be dusty (such as Canadian and European operations), the very nature of Florida peat excludes any dust factors. Florida peat is chunky and stringy. When harvested, the peat is first stacked up on site to dewater the material. Once the peat has reached a moisture content of around 50%, it will then be moved to our processing facility. Because of this moisture content, no dust is present.

If initiated, Southeast Soils (SES) will be operating on a portion of the Goose Prairie and will harvest peat from a maximum area of ~330 acres. Of the harvest area, only ~20 acres will be active at a time. No harvesting will be done on the uplands and hardwood areas of the Goose Prairie property.  The entire harvesting area is surrounded by forested areas that buffer the active harvest areas from neighboring properties.

Up until the late 1940’s Goose Prairie was a wetland system with significant amounts of open water. Over the years the hydrology has declined and the system has transitioned into a dry prairie that is more prone to fires, as a result of roads and homes being built in the region. By reclaiming Goose Prairie, SES will return the area to a more diverse habitat-like it was prior to human encroachment and impact. This will benefit the flora and fauna of the area as well as the waterway systems of Lake County.

While foreign peat harvesting operations can have some respiratory concerns, Florida peat does not release any particles into the atmosphere that pose any problems. No pathogens or other adverse components have ever been found linked to Florida peat.

No incidence of sporotrichosis has ever been found to have occurred due to exposure to reed sedge (Florida) peat. Two outbreaks in Florida have occurred, one in 1960 and the second in 1994. Both outbreaks were traced to living sphagnum moss, not Florida peat.  Importing sphagnum peat from Canada or Europe (not buying local) would increase the likelihood of a person in Florida contracting the condition.

No. Southeast Soils is a peat harvesting company, being permitted solely for the harvesting of peat.

When held up to the nose, Florida peat has a slight earthy smell. At arm’s length no odor can be detected.

All peat sites must go through a strict regulatory process overseen by the local county, state DEP and Water Management districts and the Federal EPA. An aerial survey was conducted of the Goose Prairie property, to assess the types of birds and other wildlife present. Through the mitigation process, SES must reclaim the area so that its function is of equal or greater value than before the peat harvesting occurs. Because harvesting will only encompass 20 acres at a time, there will be no measurable impact on the wildlife that use those areas. The wildlife habitat will greatly improve as the dry prairie is returned to a higher functioning ecosystem via the harvesting and reclamation process.

Typically, SES will have two full time employees at our harvesting sites, with other employees being present in a temporary capacity to perform maintenance or repairs. The only other personnel present would be truck drivers hauling peat from the site to the processing facility. This site would be restricted to 7 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday by its permit requirements.

Southeast Soils is permitted to transport up to 12 truckloads per day from the harvesting site. This is a maximum allowance and will typically be a much lower number. This will amount to 0.3% of the existing traffic on CR 44. Access to the site will be located at the traffic signal at CR44 and Durastress Drive.

No. As part of the peat harvesting process, companies must post a bond that will ensure that the reclamation process is performed correctly. In the unlikely event that a peat company closes, the bond insures that funds are available for the restoration of the area.

No. Because SES operates with such a small crew, there will usually be no more than two pieces of equipment in operation at any time. These pieces of equipment are equipped with mufflers that meet EPA guidelines.

At SES former peat sites, as well as those of other companies in Florida, we have routinely seen an increase in the property values of the surrounding homes and land parcels. This is true of land directly adjacent to the site, as well as those nearby. When the site is fully reclaimed, the surrounding land will be considered lake front property.

A surface and Floridan aquifer study found that there would be no hydrological impact on any wells, or any surface water outside of the peat harvest area. Water that is displaced by an active ~20 acre harvesting cell will be stored in another cell onsite.

No. Peat deposits are carbon sinks under normal conditions and are known to store or sequester carbon; however, under the conditions that Goose Prairie is currently experiencing, they become carbon sources and release carbon into the atmosphere.  Additionally, drought conditions make peat deposits particularly susceptible to wildfires which cause the release of high levels of carbon accumulated within the peat into the atmosphere.

No. In fact, by leaving Goose Prairie in its currently diminished hydrological state, it is far more prone to fire. Portions of Goose Prairie burned in December of 2000 and March of 2009. According to the EPA, there is a correlation between peat wildfire smoke and an increased risk of respiratory and cardiovascular malfunctions. Once started, peat fires can be difficult and lengthy to put out because of the build-up of fuel burning underground. Removal of the peat will eliminate health risks associated with potential peat fires.

The areas to the south and east of the golf course are under a conservation easement and will not be harvested. With the sizeable forested buffers that will remain undisturbed, harvesting activities will be no closer than 1,000 feet to the golf course property.

The existing surface water will be recycled within Goose Prairie. A project specific study shows that Goose Prairie is isolated from Lake Eustis by a berm under the power lines along CR44 that prevents a discharge of water to Lake Eustis, even if the site is subject to two successive hurricanes.

After SES has returned the prairie to conditions found in the 1940s, the area will be a permanent green space. This will mean that it would be a prime habitat for wildlife.

Please call the office at 352-323-8213 or send us an email for any additional information.