by Howard Lubel, Chair
The resource management committee has continued its work helping to clear trams, coordinating volunteer work days as well as assisting the park with vehicle acquisition and repair.
On January 11, 2014, the committee conducted a volunteer work day to clear Mud Tram from gate 16 to the prairie. Assisting in a full work day were Jim & Niki Woodard, Jay Staton, Paul Joslyn, Jen Stine, Dave Pickering, Glen Stacell, Bob Becker, Tom Asiala, and Richard Eguino. A special thanks is sent to two first time volunteers, Tony Nassif and Alicia Frew. The effort was quite successful in clearing an overgrowth of Brazilian pepper and hog plum. The tram is now walkable from the gate to the prairie using the spur trail. Another special thanks goes out to Ray Carroll, Cindy Carroll, their family and friends, for clearing the main trail out to the prairie canal.
FOF, working with funds from the Oil Well Road Trust Agreement, has taken action to help alleviate the park’s vehicle shortage. The new Kubota has been delivered to the park by Triple D Equipment. The vehicle is currently owned by FOF and we are in the process of evaluating the best ownership form to protect the vehicle from re-assignment within the park system.
Additionally, FOF is utilizing OWRT funds to pay for repairs to the park’s Polaris Ranger UTV. These repairs have been completed by Cypress Cycle in Naples for the approximate cost of $4,200. The vehicle has been returned to the park and performed well transporting volunteers and equipment during the Everglades Ultras on February 22. The Polaris is the only park UTV that can seat up to five people and still carry equipment and is quite important for use on volunteer work days. Swamp buggies can also seat numerous individuals but are too large and cumbersome to be used regularly in trail maintenance.
The resource management committee also answered a park call for volunteers to assist in the repair of Janes Scenic Drive. We recruited folks with certain heavy equipment skills to assist in this task and were able to find a number of good folks who offered their time for this effort. FOF also rented a bobcat to assist in the work. The cost of the rental will come from funds donated during the annual campaign. All fill recently purchased with annual campaign funds has been used on the road. As a result of this work, Janes is in much better condition and is now safely drivable all the way to gate 19.
FOF has received a donation from the Ebert Foundation in the amount of $5,000 with a designation that the funds be used for maintaining the East Main tram from the gate to the cabin. Any funds remaining thereafter can be used for other purposes. We are presently exploring the most efficient means to satisfy the donor’s intention that this popular hiking and biking trail be kept open for easy access. Many thanks to Craig Britton for helping us with this effort.