Suntree/Viera Hundred Acre Hollow preserve makes its debut
Hundred Acre Hollows Inc. board members Bert Alm and Anita Unrath and other volunteers greet visitors on opening day April 9.
photo by Linda Wiggins
The Brevard County-owned Hundred Acre Hollows preserve made its debut with a “soft opening” April 9. The Suntree/Viera-area 114-acre landlocked tract once slated for single family home development is now home only to hundreds of gopher tortoises and other wildlife.
The event capped months of work by area residents following a shocking reversal of fortune July 7 when Brevard County Commissioners, who admittedly arrived at a public hearing prepared to approve a builder's plan to develop the land, instead heeded requests of hundreds of residents who showed up to fight it in favor of preserving the land.
“We had a soft opening without much promotion because we weren't sure how we could accommodate a lot of cars,” said Anita Unrath, the Springs of Suntree resident who led the protest with the guidance of conservation consultant Terry Mott of Viera. Dozens turned out to view the vast expanse hidden from view behind upscale custom homes.
“There really is no accommodation for parking at any of the access points to the area, and we are just hoping residents will remember what the alternative could have been and tolerate the public coming to enjoy nature,” Unrath said, referring to the hundreds of daily additional traffic trips that would have been added to tiny local streets and feeder routes to Wickham Road and Viera Boulevard that are already at capacity, not to mention years of truck traffic for construction.
One condition of approval is that the area be open to all of Brevard County and not merely an amenity to the surrounding communities, which include Suntree neighborhoods to the south along Spyglass Hill Road, one of three access points at the north end of Devons Glen; Springs of Suntree, which hosts the official entrance hidden between two houses along Rock Springs Drive; and Capron Ridge off Viera Boulevard, the entry point a platted bicycle trail at the south end of the community.
Unrath and other residents formed a nonprofit entity called Hundred Acre Hollows, Inc. Oct. 15 that could contract with the county. It is led by a board made up of residents from the surrounding communities. The group inked a lease with the county Nov. 15 for $10 a year for five years, renewable 10 times.
“Though the lease currently has an end date, we want it known that this is actually a permanent arrangement so we can successfully apply for funds to improve the area. We have some of the volunteers we will need, but it takes money to properly take out invasive plants and grasses, and we want to put in benches and other features so everyone can enjoy it, so youngsters can come learn about nature and how important it is to them. We will use the location to help teach them STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education, even history, as this specific area is significant.”
The area's most recent use was to polish reclaimed water. The former plant was demolished when the South Central Wastewater Plant was built in Viera at the west end of Wickham Road. The construction of cells is similar to the Viera Wetlands but the cell beds are dry.
For more information, go to the Hundred Acre Hollows Inc. page on Facebook or call Capron Ridge resident and board member Bert Alm at 310-738-2894 or Unrath at 321-223-9521.
Check out our Fun Fact Page about the gopher tortoise.