Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Watering the lupine

I've been faithfully watering the lupine for a couple of weeks now. The plants are OK, so far. Some of the seeds in the covered beds have sprouted. There's still a long way to go, but so far, so good.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Different habitat, different birds

This probably shouldn't have been a surpise, but recently I saw a flock of Killdeer in the recently clearerd section of the preserve. It was a new species for the site.

Watching the seeds grow

I noticed that some of the Scrub Lupine seeds appear to be sprouting. Progress takes small steps.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Weeding & watering

Now that the excitement is over, it's time for the mundane to kick in.

The plants have to be watered for a time to get them established. Check.

The plants survive better if there are no competing roots, so the ground has to be cleared to bare sand. Check.

The invasive weeds have to be kept at bay, so a volunteer work day was scheduled to collect about 23 garbage bags of offending herbage. Check.

So far, so good.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Lupine has landed

I've been busy, but this is historic.
On Tuesday I participated in a historic event. It was the first time seedling Scrub Lupine have been planted in the wild. the seedlings and two transplants from the wild came from Bok Tower's endangered plant nursery. The project was a cooperative effort involving Bok, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commis-
sion, The Natives and Ridge Rangers.

I need to go out and get an exact number, but I recall something on the order of 150 seedlings were brought in, plus two non-seedlings and some pots containing a seed each.

I've volunteered to water the plants. So far so good. I gave them their first watering this morning since the initial planting and everything looks good.

This is really exciting.

If it works, more will be planted elsewhere in the preserve.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Orchids in the swamp

It's winter, the time when some species of orchids emerge and bloom in Florida. There are some Habeneria orchids in the bayhead. I don't know whether it's the additional sunlight from a free fall (probably from the recent clearing) or some other factor, but a couple are nearly knee-high rather than ankle high or so.

I cleared a path to them today for the workday next Saturday. I thought it might be a nice bonus for some of the volunteers.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Preparing for pink

The tentative date for the McFarlin's lupine introduction is just a couple of weeks away. There's still work to be done. More bare earth needs to be prepared for planting. More thought needs to be given to the advance of exotics on bare/distrubed soil around the planting site. Unless someone's keeping a secret, it looks as though everyone's assuming someone else will do the prep work. I hope I'm wrong and I hope what I'm doing in this regard is right.
The photos above show the site in its previous state, after clearing by a gyrotrac and after organic removed to bare sand for planting.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Coping with a temporarily vacant landscape

When I approach the south gate I can see the glint from a metal roof of a trailer on First Avenue. I can look northwest and see the TECO substation from a quarter mile away as long as a burn pile isn't in the line of sight. It's going to take some getting used to, I'm afraid.

I don't lake for things to do, though. I'm still doing some minor trash patrol and I need to clear a place to bare sand for the lupine planting in a couple of weeks. I talked to Cheryl Peterson today. She said this will be a learning experience for everyone because no one's attempted this before. I suspect we're all going to have to keep a lot of notes.

This is exciting to be on the front line of a project of this type. It's important.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Western horizon less cluttered

I went out today and noticed additional gyrochopping and piling had occurred all the way to the far bench. I am appealing to FWC to spare some of the rest for the sake of resident critters. This is a type of urban refuge for wildlife even though that's not the main purpose for the ownership and management of the site.

The clearing uncovered some more trash. I took out the metal. I'll be back for the rest. I also took out a bag of Natal grass from area near recently burned piles.

I circumnavigated the south tract. Someone has been through the fence near an old break again. It needs a better fix, I suppose. I can't wait until the fire lanes are improved.

Garberia and Eupatorium and Baccharis are blooming. Sumac leaves are changing color. Winter is near.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A less cluttered landscape

The piles are gradually disappearing, thanks to fire, but it may be some time yet. This afternoon I recorded the newly mechanized landscape. It will change over time. The jolt of the radical clearing is balanced by the hope that the long-term view will be more pleasing.

One thing I've noticed is more open-country birds are flying by. I've seen an American Kestrel, Eastern Phoebe and Red-tailed Hawk in the past week. I saw what appeared to be Bobcat scat this morning, which was interesting. The only bobcat I've seen was a dead one, perhaps killed by one of hte neighbors.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Burn, baby, burn

The long-awaited advent of fire finally arrived at Lake Blue this week amid squabbling between the FWC and non-FWC folks over the planning, execution and likely results of same.

FWC's approach was to gyrochop in June, let the trees dry out a while, put them in piles and then set fire to the piles. As it turns out, their approach was largely dictated by what the Florida Divison of Forestry permit would allow. The drought index at the moment is around 500, which indicates an increasing fire hazard, smoke complaints are frowned upon and I was told if they don't screw this one up, forestry folks may allow another burn across the landscape.

Despite the signs posted along the road that a prescribed fire was occurring, someone called Auburndale Fire Department anyway. When they arrived, they saw the deal and turned around and went back to the station. I wished they had done that when the minor fires occurred earlier this year, but urban firefighter culture is what it is.

Meanwhile, the fire lanes are getting some attention, too. They've cleared a 30-foot path around most of the tract except the houses along First Avenue and will do the South Tract eventually. Mike McMillan said the mowing will be followed by clearing to bare soil. He also said he'd get some conractors out to look at the fence where the ATV guys cut through and will alert law enforcement if the problems continue.

After six years, this is progress.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Gyrochopped again

Stopped by late this afternoon and discovered that the Gyrotrack had been in again and clear-cut most of the area west of the path in the north tract.

I'm happy the site's finally getting some attention. I'll be interested to see what things look like next spring.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The fire next week

I stopped by to take photos of fall wildflowers and discovered that a worker from FWC was making burn piles of the downed trees. He told me the plan is to burn next week, weather permitting. Apparently that's the only burn option for which they can get a permit, he told me. There is a growing fire danger because of the drought, so I can understand that.

He also told me that someone had cut the lock on the front gate and made it look as though it was still intact. My number one suspect is the berry picker, but it's hard to say.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pink curls

Today I ran across something that seems unusual. It is a Blue Curls (Trichostema). The unusual thing about it is the flower is pinkish instead of deep blue. Pigments sometimes go astray, I guess. I thought it was worth noting. Darwin would have understood.
This is a widespread plant and they are blooming now (I had one out of sequence last spring) and put on quite a show.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm next to the city limits

I was looking at the property ownership maps today to see who the northern neighbors are and decided to look at the aerial layer and kept going west and made a discovering. The notch outside the west fence that TECO owns is inside the Auburndale city limits, but the preserve is not.

I can't think of any advantage except maybe that Auburndale could claim the place as a natural area in its growth plan. Who knows, the city may map it conservation or at least try.

More ATVs, liatris sprouts etc.

It's always something. I discovered that someone had driven a large-wheeled ATV around recently and tracked the origin to a fence break in back of one of the neighbors' homes on First Avenue. I got the same old story I had received from the other neighbors, which was that someone else did it while they weren't home. Yeah, right. Anyway, a repaired the fence and put up some brush blocking the access. We'll see.

Meanwhile, I walked the fence line and found the cogon grass outside the fence by the substation has exploded, as I was afraid it would. It will need herbicide treatment, I think. I also thinned out any Ceasar weed I found along the back fence line, but will have to go out and take care of Chinese tallow.

It wasn't all bad news, however. I noticed a new Scrub Liatris has sprouted along the path and is in bloom. That's something.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cogon folllowup

I went out late this afternoon and collected four bags of cogon grass. I didn't get it all, but I made a dent in it, I think. Also found a small shed snake skin and a small amount of trash. A PCSO deputy was parked down the street, which meant I didn't have to worry about the dirt bikes. However, I have not seen any evicence of recent incursions. Maybe they finally got the message.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cogon and friends back

While I was out on the gyrochopped landscape today, I noticed Cogon grass had returned to an area where it had been removed last year. I guess I'll have to deal with it again. The exotics (Cogon, Natal, Ceasar, Momordica) are becoming rank in places. I'm even having second thoughts about fire because it could make things worse. It's not my call, though.

One bright spot. Despite the kids from the neighborhood being out Sunday p.m., they stayed outside with their motorcyle this time. That's something. I also found a new pair of goggles that someone had dropped. I needed a new pair anyway.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bagging more trash

I stopped by late this afternoon to grab some of the trash I had found but hadn't had an opportunity to carry out over the past few weeks. I was pleased that I found everything I was looking for, even in the twilight.

The sand torches are blooming in the cleared area. I counted nearly half a dozen as I was walking through. I've got to figure out a way to do a late afternoon photo shoot against the westering glow on the silhouetted tree line.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A clean fire lane, for now

I used a heavy rake to clean pine needles and other debris from a section of the north fire lane by First Avenue this afternoon. Now the test will be to find out whether this improves maintenance chores or makes them more difficult.

Also, I found where my berry picker had apparently been working. Instead of simply gleaning the berries from the stalk, he clipped the stalks and then cleaned the berries into his bags. Very efficient, but I'm not sure what it does to the plants.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Oro y plata

Now that fall is near, the Silver-spotted Skipper is more in evidence, based on some recent forays into the wild. It is one of the most stirking species. However, its name is incomplete. It has gold spots as well.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Monitoring a less cluttered landscape

I had a chance Friday to spend the day with a crew from Archbold Biological Station to monitor random plots at Lake Blue where the gyrochopping occurred in June.

I was pleased to learn there are more Liatris than I had been able to locate when the area was heavily wooded. I had gone out with a GPS the day before and had been able to relocate most of the ones I had previous found in this area, which were very few near the northern edge.

I was told there is some interest in using fire instead of an air-curtain incinerator. Fire creates more smoke, but it doesn't involve digging a trench and running equipment across the landscape again. I guess I'll see how that discussion plays out.

I'm happy the site is finally getting some attention and am glad I was able to contribute a little to that fact.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sawberries and snapper

Confiscated palmetto berries,

I stopped by to check on things and to continue Natal grass control, but things have a way of getting interesting. There were motorcycle tracks and I followed them until they played out and then cut over to the overgrown "fire lane" on the north side and found an impressive collection of stake knives and kitchen knives in the grass. As I stumbled out, I encountered two full bags of saw palmetto berries and then saw two more. I called FWC Lt. Birge and reported it. He said to dump them on site. When I went back I saw the guy, told him it was illegal and asked him to leave. He left, but had hauled one bag to the gate in my absence and tried to con me in to thinking he had collected it in the right of way. I got his tag number, phoned it in and then went back to dump the berries and camoflagued the dump sites.

On one of my trips out, I saw my second Snapping Turtle in six years here. Both have been younger critters, not full size. Is this a route for these guys between water bodies or what? Also, flushed a Great Horned Owl. Need to come out here more often at dusk.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

May get fire after all

I talked to Eric Menges from Archbold today. He told me he had been trying to persuade Mike McMillan at FWC to reconsider plans to use the air curtain incinerator, since it would involve digging a trench or trenches to burn the debris. That could cause unnecessary ecosystem damage

I guess the challenge will be smoke management because the incinerator is a high-temperature, low-opacity burn and the other is not. He said he may be able to get Sticky and company to do it. They're good.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Butterflies in the wind

After filling two bags full of Natal grass in my vain attempt at some exotics control and management, I turned my attention to butterflies.

Since the section of the site was opened mechanically, butterflies have been a lot easier to find. I noticed for the first time that I could remember that they were using some of the listed plants as nectar sources. I saw Cloudless Sulfur and Clouded Skipper visit Bonamia grandiflora and I saw Queens on Asclepias curtissi (and a fresh caterpillar the other day).

In addition, Gray Hairstreak were visiting Asclepias tuberosa with a generous five-flower spread. Gulf and Variegated Fritillaries were in their usual haunts.
Today's total was 135 individuals, composed of 14 species. The bulk of the numbers were Ceraunus Blue (42) and Barred Yellow (38).

I noted three species (Zebra Swallowtail, Queen and Barred Yellow) were copulating in flight.

This count may be a baseline for next year. I had good results despite windy conditions from Hurricane Gustav in the Gulf.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bagging & Piling

The work has turned to the mundane and laborious, but perhaps necessary.

I've been piling up some of the larger pieces of land-clearing debris in preparation for the air-curtain incinerator crew. I wasn't sure what was involved until I looked up some web sites and see that it involves bring the debris to a metal chamber where it is burned very hotly to reduce emissions. It occurs to be this was chosen to avoid smoke-management issues.

It also means there will not be a problem with the piles causing hot spots, since the only hot spot will be wherever the equipment is unloaded.

Meanwhile, I've been attacking the flourishing Natal grass growth that has been encouraged by the land-clearing and the plentiful rainfall. I don't know what kind of progress I can make, but I'm going to give it a try.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cleared ground yields new species

The gyrochopping that has cleared and disturbed the ground over a significant section of the north tract has produced mixed results. Initially, the exotics, particularly Natal grass and Ceasar weed, were sprouting as you might expect. But Dayflower has exploded as previously mentioned and some patches of Goldenrod (not sure which species) are popping up, a sure harbinger of some diversity. I've also encountered some plants that were unfamiliar except the fruit looked like tomatillo, an exotic. Turns out its a related species called Cutleaf Groundcherry (Physalis angulata), the latest entry in the Lake Blue plant list.
p.s. It's native.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Checking on the orchids

I went out today to the site where I've been able to dependably find Giant Orchilds (Pteroglosaspsis escritata) over the past five years. I saw a couple of shoots emerging. Their productivity varies from year to year (I was spoiled the first year when I found about 27 plants by this time), but I suspect the drought may have been an influence as well.

I did some more debris stacking and trash pickup this morning and walked the fire land on the south tract. Found a pallet, a homemade weapon and some trash.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Watering the lupine

I received a call from Nancy Bissett about volunteering to water an experimental batch of scrub lupine that Cheryl Peterson from Bok is planning to bring to the site in late fall.

It's good to be trusted with a role in this important project and it will give me something to look forward to.

There is a small matter of preparing the site, which is still not done, but t here's time, I suppose. I guess my concern in addition to the tree debris is the disruption of the earth (as in soil) that could provide an opening for Natal grass. I will have to be vigilant.

Passion in late summer

One of the salutary effects of the recent gyrochopping was some more opening for passionvine to spread. So far it has outcompeted the air potato

for space in one corner near the gate.

This has meant that Gulf and Variegated Fritillaries have arrived as well, laid eggs and are hatching larvae to continue the cycle.

These are common species, but it's good to encourage any native wildlife, no matter how seemingly commonplace.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Natal grass born too soon

I need to go out and deal with the Natal grass. It's invading part of the cleared area and I need to control it before it takes over this area as it has the fire lanes.

I wish they would come in an burn the debris. It might help (or not).

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Blooming beauty in the scrub

When I walked into the preserve today I was greeted with the sight of what seemed like hundreds of blooming Dayflowers (Commelina). I'd never seen so many of these common flowers at one time, but I'd never been a newly cleared scrub habitat, either.

Meanwhile, the Clitoria fragrans is blooming more vigrously than I've ever seen, putting on quite a show after popping up finally from the gryrochopping. I guess I'm wondering whether they'll take a second hit when the stacking and burning crew comes in.

Had a work day today. We removed some of the encroaching exotics from the southeast corner where there was lightning fire or something recently that burned a small area.

Sand Torches are blooming, so is Curtiss' milkweed.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Rain, regeneration in rollerchopland

I went out to check on things this afternoon in the area that was mechanically cleared a few weeks ago.

Bonamia appears to be sprouting in many places, presumably where it was before. I main run some GPS transects just to verify this. Also, I was pleased to see that the Clitoria fragrans has come back after being initially MIA.

The recent plentiful rains have probably helped in this regard. The drought appears to be over.

I've got a work day coming up and I noticed the Lygodium and Cogon Grass has been persistent near the base of a downed tree. Also, the ear tree that Mike and I thought we dug up at the last work day has sprouted from a root segment. I'll have to clear a work area to take care of that.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Raking the path

It occurred to me today that I want to rake the north-south path to remove as much debris as possible to keep the area open for Sand Skinks et al.

Gleaning the trash

I did a walk through this afternoon after finishing a minor fence repair. I filled a bucket of miscellaneous trash and collected a plant specimen I have yet to identify.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

What a fire exposes

There have been two fires recently, each less than an acre. One was in the section outside the fence by the TECO substation. The other was along Hobbs Road and spilled over into the southwest corner of the preserve that had been gyrochopped.

I've been out collecting trash that was suddenly visibile after being virtually invisible among the saw palmettos.

Both fires have caused Cogon grass to sprout, so it's on the march again after being brought under control. I've been promised a new herbicide to deal with it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gyrochopping arrives; it'll never look the same

This week a worker from FWC was busily gyrochopping a portion of the North Tract. He said the South Tract will get attention eventually. I'm glad I knew about it, because I was able to explain what was happening to county folks who had received calls and to one of the neibghbors.The big question will be the results. That may take some time (I don't know how much, though) to appear. In the best-case scenario, Bonamia etc. will explode. In the worst-case scenario, so will Natal grass and cogon grass. It would be funny if Lupinus aridorum were to pop up on its own next year. It will be interesting to watch. The Clitoria fragrans area was cleared. I didn't see any of the plants in a superficial search of the area where they have been living, but disturbance may favor them.I let the Archbold folks know the latest. Eric Menges said they'll be monitoring the results and compare it to prescribed burn results.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Fire strikes, but not hard enough

I was checking the fence line this week and found there had been a small fire in the back area by the TECO substation. I don't know whether it was a lightnintg strike or something else, but it was interesting. Too bad it didn't get a little more out of hand, since there's no homes to threaten in that part of the preserve, so all it would have done is to renew the landscape. OK, it might have spread some exotics, too, but that's happening anyway.

The oaks are dying

There has been a dieoff among some of the Chapman oaks in the north tract. From what research I've done online and checking with another land manager, the problem is probably drought-related and aggravated by the lack of fire that has allowed everything to be overgrown so there's not enough for everyone. I began noticing the stress a few months ago, but it's hard to ignore now.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tires keep rolling in

I cleared some more of the fire lane on the north tract and found more tires that had been tossed by my neighbors, I suppose. I need to get the lane and do a cleanup soon. There's still a lot of trash there. I'd like to set it cleaned for the brush hog crew if it ever materializes. Miracles happen.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Are gophers eluding me?

I found what appeared to be Gopher Tortoise scat in a fire lane in the south tract yesterday. I don't know how long it had been there. I had found scat once before in the north tract, but all of my sightings were in the south tract, and were of relatively recent vintage. Could it be that there is a small, cryptic population here?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Disassembling the bench

I dissambled one of the benches I had built for the benefit of visitors after one or more of the visitors repeatedly vandalized it. I moved it somewhere where it may be appreciated more.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


During the lupine tour the other day I found that vandals had dug up one of the benches I installed and partially dismantled it. I'd try to understand it, but vandalism is by definition senseless.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Planning for scrub lupine

I conducted a tour today of reps from FWC, FWS and Historic Bok Sanctuary to look at candidate sites for the scrub lupine test plots. We settled on a site in the north tract. The plan is to bring in 500 plants this fall and see what happens.

Sifting through the broken glass

I've begun working on one of the small piles of buried household garbage that dot the preserve. Broken glass is the dominant haul, though I have found a few miraculously unbroken bottles, which I'm recycling. The stuff has been there a while (think pop tops) and who knows what the dig will reveal. When I'm done with this one, another one nearby awaits.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Rare FWC visit planned

Couple of folks from FWC are coming by next week to look around, perhaps in response to my nagging about the state of the fire lanes and partly to become more familiar with the property. That's good. They've got a lot of sites to deal with and this one is the farthest from their office in Lake Placid. No, I don't know why they decided to locate an office at one end of the network instead of in the middle of it.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Clearing the boundary

Did another Great American Cleanup today, this time on the section along Hobbs Road on the south tract. We collected 30 bags of trash, half a dozen tires etc. It obviously hadn't been touched in a while. I even found a 1971 Michigan license plate. Interesting..

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


This is some of the best news ever. I have been informed that work is planned to develop a test plot at Lake Blue to introduce scrub lupine. This had been recommended because the only protected site is over by Lake McLeod and if something zaps that site, we've lost a significant portion of the world's scrub lupine population. I can hardly wait.

Preservation zoning stalls over TDRs

My efforts to turn the presrve into a preserve on the county's growth map has stalled because the Division of State Lands wants to bank the land's industrial land use for trade under a transfer of development rights that doesn't exist yet.

There's a framework here for TDRs for residential densities, which is calculated on the basis of units/acre, but not for commercial densities, which is calculated on floor:area ratio. I just hope no mischief results from this decision.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The fences are cleared

Today I finished the last section of fence clearing along the streets adjoining the preserve. It took 10-12 hours altogether, I think. I'm done. I went home and had a couple of beers to celebrate.

Yesterday I saw a Blue Curls blooming. It wouldn't be unusual to see Blue Curls blooming here except for the fact that it's March, not September.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Some work to do this weekend

I found the fence near the substation had been cut again, just short of the last splice. On purpose undoubtedly. I plan to reinforce that section with more posts and I think I've found a place to get rid of some brush, if you know what I mean.

Nolina is beginning to bloom everywhere. Liatris is starting to pop up. No surprise there. Today's the first day of spring.

I saw the first Carolina anole I had seen in some time today. Always a treat.

One of the neighbors told me he had stopped some dirt bikders from coming in. Still curious who cut the fence and who is making the paths I find.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Exploring down the line

I've been intrigued by the patch of scrub to the east in the industrial area, so I decided to explore in case a surpise lay there. There's POMY, NOBR, PACH and LECE as well as more common stuff, but no bonus species. Now I know.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Clearing another fence line

I'm gradually clearing the fence line on the south side of the south tract. I found a water heater in the right of way and pushed ite out to the road shoulder to retrieve it later for recycling, but someone beat me to it. Good for them. Most of the other trash in the section I worked on was minimal. I had cleaned up some of it previously.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Conservation rezoning advances

My push to get this site recognized as Preservation on the county growth map is moving ahead. The Development Review Committee met today and had no objections. If all goes well, it will happen by the end of the year.

Two vines, one grass and more

Exotic invasive species are the enemies of conservation land managers. I'll start the discussion with two vines and a grass. Lygodium can be a problem, but I've found only two spots and eliminated both quickly. Abrus is everywhere, but it has always been around and I can live with it, I think.

Natal grass is a major nuisance. It has taken over major sections of the fire lanes that aren't already taken over by something else. There are other exotic problems. I'll post their mug shots later.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Just when you thought it was safe to quit looking for tires

I was raking to unearth some shallowly, I thought, buried trash near the First Avenue gate when I hit something large and hard. It was a tire (on a rim, of course) that was buried in the wind row. I hauled out two bags as well, one of which contained mostly recyclables. I'm recycling as much of the trash as I can.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

1,000 hours!

I went to the Ridge Rangers appreciation event today at Bok Tower. I learned my hours altogether had topped 1,000. I know I've probably spent at least 700 hours at Lake Blue, but I do try to help at other places when I can. I got a new post-hole digger and a book for my trouble, which was pretty cool.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Where's the property line?

I ran into an anomaly this week when I was researching the property records for a growth map change request. I discovered that the property line and the fence line along the west side do not match. I'm talking about a 130-foot to 150-foot gap. I alerted FWC.
If you look closely in the northwest corner, you will see the property boundary and the location of the fire lane are seperated by a wooded area.

After thinking about it, I was wondering whether this portion of the fence line was done as a matter of convenience or whether there was just a miscommuncation somewhtre. The corner post where the fence line was supposed to go west is still there, 150 feet from the other corner. The adjacent property is owned by TECO.
I talked with FWC folks and found out that this happens from time to time. In the overall scheme of things it's not that big a deal. I guess the longer you stay here, the more you notice.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Some deferred cleanup work

I returned to the nothwest section of the north tract today to begin some serious trash cleanup and exotic removal. This place is not next to the key habitat areas, so it was a low priority in previous years. I dug a trench into the windrow, hoping nature and rain will uncover more than a lot of digging would do. We'll see.

I carried out two bags of roofing materials and some other stuff. I have a feeling this is only the beginning. This will be a really trahsy corner of the preserve, and I suspect I know why.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

More Lygodium appears

I found a few Lygodium vines in the north tract today inside near an area where roofing material was dumped (I should say near ONE of the areas where roofing materials had been dumped). I quickly got a shovel and dug up the plants, bagged them and removed them. It was japonica, which seems to be most of what we get in this part of the county. The Lygodium was near some newly sprouted cogon grass, which had come up in the dirt clinging to the roots of a downed tree. As they say, any disturbed soil. It was removed, too.

This is only the second time I've found Lygodium here. I need to be more alert for it, I suppose.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Air potatoes and ground trash

We had a successful work day on Saturday. The air potato seed bank has been depleted. I also found a lot of trash and found clues for finding more in the windrows. I'll check it out later. No one's going to remove it for me.

In the p.m. I took my kayak over to the beach at the federal preserve on Lake McLeod and piled up quite a bit of stuff before the sun got too low.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Maintenance day drudge work

It stopped raining and it wasn't too cold, so I headed out to do some maintenance work. I came out with a bag of Cogon, a bag of Natal, a bag of Brazilian and a bag of trash.

An air potato pickup work day is planned for next Saturday. By the way the latest issue of Florida Wildlife magazine had a photo of yours truly as well as my many other hard-working Ridge Range colleagues. We work hard and it's great to be recognized.

The sun is finally out this afternoon. I may do some photography.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Dreaming of scrub lupine

I went out today with Nancy Bissett to look for McFarlin's lupine in the Pollard Road area. It is there. The question is what to do about it.

Some of it is on the 100-foot-wide CSX right of way.

Some of it is on the property that will be used to build additional tracks.

There is additional scrub--badly overgrown-- on property between Pollard Road and the tracks owned by Winter Haven and planned as the site of a new park. Lupine (we also found Lupinus diffusus) could pop up there, too, when the land is cleared.

There is also scrub on the other side of the track on property owned by the Atkins family, but it's unclear whether any lupine is there since we did not have permission to enter., though it was clear there were other listed plants, such as Bonamia grandiflora, Polygonella basiramia and Polygonella myriophyllla.

I wonder whether the seeds from any of these plants could end up being used at Lake Blue to establish another population on protected and half-assed managed land.

Cogon grass cleanup

Stopped by the south tract in p.m. to bag a small patch of cogon grass near the southwestern corner that has popped back from the herbiciding. I also cleared some of the guinea grass etc. that had sprouted in my terraforming work area. I'd still like to plant something there to keep the weeds down if we ever get dependable rainfall again.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Burn or be burned

It's going to be a bad fire season because of the drought and the freezes. There's a lot of dead vegetation out there. The latest freeze zapped the Ceasarweed, which is rife in some of the fire lanes, and some of the other stuff. There's ankle-deep pine needles in the forest on the north side of the preserve next to the aging mobile homes and overgrown fire lane.

A lightning strike could be disastrous, despite its ecological benefits. People could lose everything they own, which doesn't appear to be much. That would be sad.

Prescribed burns are controversial at the moment and probably politically difficult, but the alternative is ugly. I hope my fears are overblown.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

There is no fire lane

I walked the perimeter today. I had a machete. I needed it. Except for the area I cleared on teh west side of the south tract recently, there is essentially no fire lane. Trees are growing into the former fire lane. Where trees are absent, tall or thick vegetation is. One of these days something horrible is going to happen and a lot of fingers will be pointing, but they won't be pointiong at me. I have warned them repeatedly.

For the record, the north tract's fire lane has been brush hogged exactly once since the property was acquired five or six years ago. The south tract fire lane has never been brush hogged. The results are inevitable.

This photo shows how close the homes are to the unfiresafe unfirelane.

You read it here first.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Time for another cleanup

I finished the last of the fence line clearing on the south side of the north tract today. The work provided a better view of the garbage that still remains to be picked up in the right of way. This is a project that may be appropriate for the next Great American Cleanup.