Sunday, August 26, 2007

Natal grass progress

The second annual natal grass tug was a sucess. Ever since I did a test pull about three years ago to see if weeding natal grass was sustainable, the natal grass growth in the central area where I've doing this has shown signs of lower regeneration from the solid carpet of natal grass that greeted me when I started this (should have taken photos). That allowed time to begin some work on the south fire lane's natal grass. This is a small bit of progress, but welcome.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fortuitous & fortunate convergence

I've been clearing and widening the fire lane in the south tract to aid maintenance and to get at some of the trash piles more easily. This has resulted in a brush pile that contains a number of small trees. Today I removed many of the trees, cut off their branches and took them away for their future use as hiking sticks in an upcoming venture called Polk's Ten Trek Trails that will encourage young people (and others) to use the local trail system. It doesn't look as though I will run out of material anytime soon, though I'm leaving some of the less common trees, such as Hercules club, to create a little more variety.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tall grass fire lane

I took my lawnmower out today to do battle with the tall grass in the north fire lane. The lawnmower lost. It looks as though I'll have to finagle someone to bring in a tractor to do the job.
Despite the fact that this exposure is backlit and a poor-quality to photo, I think it conveys a good impression of what the challenge is.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Showy sumac

One way to tell fall is approaching is the blooming of a new group of plants. There are many rare plants I monitor, but sometimes it's easy to overlook the beauty of the common plants. Sumac is one of them. The flowers are yellow cream this time of year. Later in the season the leaves turn red and provide a great contrast in the scrub against the white sand. This is not the same thing as poison sumac. which is another plant entirely. These bushes are a benign and lovely part of the landscape.

Fruit season

One of the pleasures of working here this time of year is that there's some sweet rewards. In late July the grapes are ripe, though only on the female vines, which are in short supply, it seems. In August the gopher apples begin to ripen. They're more widespread and are really a sweet treat when they're ripe.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Plant list growing

I've added a few more species to the official plant list. I added Joint Vetch (Aeschynomene viscidula) because I finally noticed it growing in the sandhill area. It is a prostrate plant with small flowers (4-5 mm) and could be overlooked easily if you're unobservant, as I have been.

The others are "weeds" that I am just now finding out what they are. I found a great web site listing grasses found in citrus groves, which helped. I need to get down the Extension Office and see what they have.

Sand Skinks need management, experts agree

I've just read the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determination that Sand Skinks should remain a threatened species and that their habitat needs more management, protection and monitoring. One comment that struck me was the superiority of fire management over mechanical management. Also, the experts said that if you chop down the trees, leave them to be devoured by the termites because you'll get fatter Sand Skinks that way.

Now, all I need is a good lightning strike some night when the Auburndale Fire Department is otherwise occupied and the fire is far enough from the homes so that no one is burned out of their home. That would be some trick, I guess.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Dirt bike redux

Last weekend I caught some kids in the preserve on a dirt bike. I told them to get out. I can tell they're still pissed about it. I was working on the fire lane and someone road by and yelled something about the incongruity of clearing land (that would be the fire lane) in a state wildlife preserve. I checked the area later and saw there had been no return of the dirt bike. Maybe they'll stay out even if they would prefer not to. I also alerted FWC and Law Enforcement will be aware of the situation. Maybe if someone got a ticket it might cool their jets.

Back on the fire lane

I've returned to my labors of trying to widen the fire lane to make it more functional. This work will also make it easier to remove trash from the windrows at the edge owhere the original fire lane was cut. I'm making a large brush pile, which at some point will either have to be burned or removed. I'm voting for fire, but at the moment I'm outvoted.