Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Clearing land for the lupines

A group of volunteers cleared the ground for the next lupine planting, but ran into some big-rooted trees that will require more than strong backs to remove.

The problem is that we could have gone into a little more open area, but would have run into one of Archbold's study plots and beyond that is a burn pile site that may have altered soil.

The highlights today was the discovery of a Blue-tailed Mole Skink, only the second one I've seen on this site since I started working here in 2002. We also found a Worm Lizard, which many people had not seen. I've run into a few out here, but they're hardly common.

In addition, the large Narceus gordanus millipedes were everywhere.

We got a lot done and the rain held off, which helped.

Lupine patch clearing today; hope rain holds off

We have a work day scheduled this morning to clear a patch of scrub to prepare for next month's planting of Scrub Lupine.

Shortly after I got up this morning, the rain began. It has been on and off, but not too bad for a determined work crew. I'm taking rain gear just in case it gets heavy.

The upside is that the rain makes it easier to dig in sandy soil. Always look on the bright side, even if the sun isn't shining.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fence fixed, entrance altered

When I stopped by this afternoon after the Ridge Ranger gathering, I found that the fence contractors had been working today.

The fence cuts had been fixed.

The old walk-through entrances had been closed and a new ones created diagonally across from each other at the southeast and northwest corners of the tracts, though the northwest gate on the south tract is still dummy locked. Not really a problem, there's nowhere to go there except the fire lane anyway.

I did notice the walk-through entrance was rather inviting to dirt bikes, though, being in an area where they regularly ride. I brought the no vehicle sign down from the main gate and sunk another post in the middle to discourage them. We'll see what happens.

Fence problems chronic

I stopped by Friday afternoon and noticed the neighbors had torn through the fence behind the vacant house again.

This is the third time since the holidays this has occurred. I'd define that as chronic.

I also found a somewhat concealed fence cut, which was new, a couple of houses to the east by a cherry laurel tree.

FWC is talking about improving the fence line and possibly even posting the property for public access because of the problems. It may come to that.

Pin the lupine on the sand skink

Thre's another lupine planting planned soon, but first comes the decision of where the planting should go.

The first time around it was a matter of picking a site that was already relatively open and wasn't infested with Natal grass. The gyrchopping, which wasn't discussed during the first site selection, changed that somewhat.

The open area had t be reopened, but it has worked out pretty well.

Now that the landscape is no longer forested, there's thought of opening up a formerly forested area mechanically, but the question is where to do that.

One site was selected, but it would interfere with some study plots that Archbold scientists are studying. I think one of the purposes is to track the response of listed plants to the non-fire management.

Another issue that occurred to me is that the cleared site shouldn't be in an area with a lot of listed plants that would have to be plowed under to make way for the lupine planting.

From my earlier GPS work, it looks as though any area within about 100 feet of the eastern fire lane would work best because I never found much when I was surveying that area, though it was heavily foreested and I could have missed a few plants here and there.

I'm sure it will all work out.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lupine meeting yielded news

The lupine meeting at Wekiwa Springs State Park was worth attending.

I found out more plantings were planned for Lake Blue, scheduled within the next few weeks, so there's plenty of prep work to be done at the planting site Cheryl and Juliette select.
The big issue is making sure the next patch is relaitvely close to the first to make cross pollination, if that happens (no one was totally sure; there's a lot that remains to be discovered) between the existing plants and the next group.

I learned today that a Scrub Lupine's lifespan is typically five years, which makes getting plants in, blooming and seeding and producing seedlings very important. Without successful recruitment, we're toast.

I also learned that winter planting is preferable to allow the plants to become established before they have to deal with the stresses of late spring with hot weather and rain, drought stress and fungus.

The survival rate for the spring planting at Lake Blue was roughly half that of the winter planting.

I also had a chance to meet some of the other folks involved in some way in the project. Great bunch of folks, all very knowledgeable and dedicated. I was able to share some of my experience from Lake Blue. We're all intent on helping each other in any way we can to make this experiment works.

One other topic came up today, which was the need to try to find additional sites for plantings and to find the money to purchase and manage the sites. Polk County is tapped out for now. I'm not sure the state is in much better shape. The feds might have resources and there was talk of contacting NGOs, such as TNC to find out what they might be able to do.

The recovery plan anticipates additional sites with viable populations before downlisting is even possible and quite a few sites to delist. That could take some time, it would seem. But extinction is forever, which is even longer.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lupine meeting tomorrow

I'm going to sit in on a meeting to get an update on the lupine experiment. The Lake Blue site has been a problem because of the vandalism, which has gone away for now.

I check the planting area yesterday and everything looked good. The flags have been returned.

I like to think my contacts with the neighbors and law enforcement visit helped to cool things down.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fixing the gates

I'm proposing to redesign the walk-through gates if I can get the OK.
It would reduce the chance that people can come in with dirt bikes.

The idea is a V-shaped wooden entrance similar to the EL walk-throughs. It should be simple to install with a couple of volunteers, once we have the design and the materials. It's too easy to get in now.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The death of a neighbor

Sad news today. One of the neighbors along First Avenue was found dead this morning in the industrial park just north of here.

His name was Larry Whitest. He was 56.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Work day went great

There was a great group of volunteers today for our work day.

We got a lot of trash picked up. It took me two truckloads to carry it home for sorting and storing for future garbage collection. I got a wheelbarrow full of metal recycables and several gallons of plastic and glss bottles.

That took me a couple of hours extra. I'll sleep well tonight.

The reason I took the trash is because Jim had a truckload of roofing shingles from a dump we began digging through today. It will take more work days to get rid of that pile. Jim suggested using a front-end loader if we can get one. That sounds about right.

One group did some trail work on the south tract, but I didn'tget a chance to check it out.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Work day Saturday--yahoo!

There's a work day Saturday for Ridge Rangers. I expect a big crowd because there is a group of volunteers that have been enticed with Disney tickets.

I've marked some trails to improve, add or maintain. There's trash to clean up along the expanded fire lane and a pile of roofing materials in the back along one of the trails.

The rain chance has declined. It may be windy. We'll manage.

I haven't had much further vandalism, though a couple of tires have appeared across the fence from Levy's houses and a trash container was tossed into the lupine patch.

The turnout Saturday may send a message.

I learned today that Mike has left and Nicole's in charge for now. Lots of turnover at FWC. Nothing new there.