World Wetlands Day 2001: USA

27/01/2001

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From Miami, Florida

I wanted to inform you of an activity the Florida Native Plant Society is holding in support of World Wetlands Day at Everglades National Park. It's an ongoing project and our first workday was attended by over 40 volunteers!

Tiffany Troxler Gann
Florida International University
Department of Biological Sciences
Miami, FL 33199
troxlert@fiu.edu

HELP US RE-LANDSCAPE THE GATEWAY TO EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK (RAMSAR SITE)

If you have stopped at the Ernest Coe Visitors Center at the entrance to Everglades National Park recently, you might have noticed that the landscaping is ... well ... in need of "fixing". When the replacement for the old visitors center destroyed by Hurricane Andrew opened several years ago, the landscaping was attractive but included some exotic and inappropriate species. The years and lawn mowers have not been kind, and the first sight of the Everglades seen by thousands of visitors from all over the world each year is not entirely pretty.

To assist the Park in this necessary clean-up and to help celebrate World Wetlands Day (http://www.ramsar.org) which marks the date of the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources, the DADE COUNTY FLORIDA NATIVE PLANT SOCIETY is working with Alan Scott, the park ranger in charge of interpretive facilities, to revamp the landscaping to make it more attractive and more representative of the Everglades habitats. A committee from the chapter has surveyed the grounds and planned the initial work. The landscaping will serve not only to beautify the grounds of the visitor’s center, but also to demonstrate landscaping with natives to local residents.

The initial sections to restore are the "pinelands" adjacent to the parking lot and between the visitors center and the park offices. Young pines (up to about 8') and saw palmettos are essentially the only pineland species visible. However, by carefully searching through a large bed of zoyzia grass, a surprising number of healthy quailberry plants from the original landscaping can be found still growing under the grass! Most of the pineland area needs the addition of understory plants. Equipment and some non-plant supplies (including signs) will be supplied by the park. Obtaining plants, mulch, and other required materials will be a joint effort -- hopefully, you can supply some.

IF YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO HELP OR DONATE MATERIALS, PLEASE CALL OR EMAIL CARRIE CLELAND (305-661-9023;Carrie_Cleland@flsd.uscourts.gov)

(1) HELP ON SATURDAY, JANUARY 20, FROM 8:30 UNTIL NOON to remove the zoyzia grass by hand and clear weeds and grass in sensitive areas where pines and other plants are to be preserved. We will also do other maintenance and exotic removal. Please bring your own hand trowel and gloves, if possible. Refreshments provided. Shovels, picks and pruning tools might be useful as well.

(2) HELP AT A LATER WORKDAY. Let us know if you’d like to be added to the list of potential volunteers for future ongoing work days.

(3) PLANTS! If you might have plants to donate now or in the future, please call Carrie or Patty to discuss our needs and requirements.

(4) PINE NEEDLE MULCH from southern slash pines.

(5) FUNDS. Donations or help in obtaining grant funding for additional plants, supplies and educational literature.

(6) ROCKS -- local oolitic limestone ranging from fist size up to about 2 feet tall and wide to use as barriers to mowers and additions to the pineland understory. (If you have even one rock, bring it!)

(7) ADDITIONAL /FUTURE COMMITTEE MEMBERS! This is an on-going project that will need DCFNPS coordination not only for the initial re-landscaping but also for the long-term maintenance.

Don't miss this opportunity to help show the world a real South Florida landscape -- without having 1.2 million visitors tromp through your native plant yard! Your rewards will be the pride of seeing and knowing the worth of the improvements, recognition of DCFNPS efforts, and free entrance to the park on the day of your work. Repeat volunteers at the park are honored with t-shirts and other ENP apparel and a volunteer recognition luncheon in March. Volunteer time can also be a tax deduction.

ENP Landscape Project Committee: Carrie Cleland (305-661-9023), Gwen Burzycki (305-372-6569), Patty Phares (305-255-6404).

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