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Serenity Walk Park in East Naples had some not so serene days in 2017.

It's open again, after being closed since last March when a wildfire and then Hurricane Irma in September ripped through the heavily wooded park and mile-long walking trail.

The one-two punch wreaked havoc at the park, the result of an environmental restoration project, and prompted another restoration all over again.

Serenity Walk Park is the last of 28 county parks and preserves to reopen after being closed because of Irma.

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The 99-acre preserve along the western edge of Collier Boulevard north of Rattlesnake Hammock Road originally was built as a mitigation project to make up for destruction of 44 acres of wetlands for a huge county drainage project.

The county bought the land for the park in 2002 for $2.75 million and received a $1.1 million grant from the Florida Communities Trust through the Florida Forever land acquisition program. The park cost $150,000 to build.

Crews restored most of the site by removing nonnative trees and plants and regrading the land to restore wetland functions.

The county planted 2,800 pine and cypress trees and more than 64,000 ground cover plants as part of the restoration.

It opened in 2011 as the Lely Area Stormwater Improvement Project Mitigation Park. It was renamed the next year, sitting serenely until last March.

First, a wildfire that scorched thousands of acres on the edge of Golden Gate Estates jumped Collier Boulevard and torched the park.

Fire crews had to remove sections of fencing to get firefighting equipment into the park, which lost picnic tables, plastic matting, and signs and markers along the trail.

When rainy season arrived, the heavy equipment being used to clear the trail couldn't work in the wet soil.

Then, on the cusp of dry season, Hurricane Irma came through in September, felling more trees and requiring cleanup to start anew.

On a recent afternoon, walkers wended through a forest of scorched trunks and toppled trees, reminders of Serenity Walk Park's rough year.

A pair of woodpeckers rapped at the top of leaning pine trees as a construction crew hammered on a new roof in a nearby subdivision.

Ron Kallies, 71, visiting from Wisconsin, walked the trail with his two sons and two grandchildren, a chance to get out of the house.

"It's great," he said.

SERENITY WALK PARK

What: 99-acre preserve with half-dozen parking spaces, mile-long walking trail, picnic deck

Where: 8985 Collier Blvd., East Naples

When: Open from 7 a.m. to dusk

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