by Howard Lubel, chair
The resource management committee has been quite busy for this reporting period clearing trams, participating in slough surveys with the park biologist, planning and arranging logistics for volunteer work days, working with weed control as well as acquiring a new park utility vehicle and repairing an old one.
During the month of December, resource management planned and conducted a work day clearing the east main tram north of the Ballard cabin. We have cleared approximately four miles north of the camp to ready the tram for the Everglades Ultras and for other park purposes. We have created areas at reasonable intervals to permit a park truck to turn around safely, if not easily. FOF members participating in this work day included Dino Barone, Tom Maish, Jen Stine, Paul Joslyn, Dave Pickering, Bob Becker and me. Bob also brought several friends and runners to assist in the effort.
Also during December, Dino and Ranger Steven Bass used the new pumps and sprayers purchased by FOF to spray the Caeser Weed that clogs the east main tram from just north of the cabin all the way to Jones Grade. This is difficult and nasty work accomplished under adverse conditions fighting a difficult enemy. Once the tram is mowed and the weeds are cut, next year’s control effort will be easier. Left unchecked the weeds will clog the tram making passage difficult.
Dino and I also spent a day on the tram orienting the new park ranger, Melissa, and cutting hog plum and pepper canopies. We also trimmed pepper and hog plum on mud tram from gate 16 to the spur, while planning the recruitment and allocation of resources for the volunteer work day scheduled for January 11, 2014. We anticipate having approximately 10-12 FOF members working to clear that tram on Saturday. Another work day is scheduled for January 25 and board member participation is encouraged. Work on the trams is done at each individual’s own pace and comfort level. This is not a chain gang experience. It would also give individual board members the opportunity to better understand the park’s needs and challenges.
I also want to send a thanks to Dave Pickering for his continued efforts clearing the tram at gate 2. Dave is working to open windows along the tram for our Ghost Rider visitors.
FOF has also played a key role in the acquisition of a new Kubota for the park from Triple D Equipment Inc in Deland. The Kubota will be used for purposes related to management of the Oil Well Road Trust Parcel. It was the park’s vehicle of choice. FOF will be reimbursed by the Trust for the costs related to the acquisition of this vehicle. The anticipated delivery date is January 15, 2014. The vehicle’s cost including delivery is approximately $11,855.
We have also been monitoring the repair efforts for the Polaris Ranger. This was the park’s most often used vehicle to transport work crews, since it had the capacity to move 5 to 6 people as well as equipment down trams. The vehicle has been out of service for several months compromising our ability to efficiently move volunteer crews on work days. Repairs to this vehicle are estimated at slightly in excess of $4000. FOF anticipated using funds available from the Oil Well Road Trust Fund to effectuate the repair. However, it appears that the cost of the Kubota and the estimated cost to repair the Polaris exceed that which is available from the fund.
FOF has used funds from the resource management committee budget to pay for repairs to the park’s Davis weather station. This repair was requested by the park biologist, Mike Owen. We have also acquired an additional Stihl weedeater with metal blades for use clearing trams. Funds from last year’s annual campaign were used for this purchase.
Finally, members of the resource management committee also accompanied the park biologist, Mike Owen, on two plant surveys. The first survey was organized to count vanilla orchids, swamp red bay, tilandsia balbisiana as well as tilandsia utriculata and other species. The second survey conducted on January 5, 2014, was primarily focused on locating the utriculata. This plant is being decimated within the park boundaries by the Mexican bromelliad weevil and the park is contemplating remedial action.