Management Committee Reports

Management Committee Reports

Resource Management Report – April 2014

Resource Management Report – April 2014
by Howard Lubel, Chair
The resource management committee has been busy working on the Ebert Foundation grant for maintaining the east main tram to the cabin, the Everglades Ultras, the harvest of endangered tillandsia utriculata, the central slough survey, budget preparation for the coming fiscal year and securing cost estimates for the purchase of a crew cab utility vehicle for transporting FOF volunteers on work days.

On February 21, a representative of Stahlman Landscaping in Naples was taken on a tour of the east main tram from gate 12 to the Ballard camp so that the company could submit an estimate for the clearing and maintenance work. Stahlman’s detailed proposal was presented to the board and approved at the March meeting. It is anticipated that three cuts will be required in order to satisfy the conditions of the Ebert Foundation gift dedicated to keeping the tram clear. This will leave $800 for FOF’s general fund at the end of the next fiscal year.

On February 22, resource committee members served in various capacities during the Everglades Ultras. We participated as race marshals, aid station workers, photographer and medical assistance personnel. We also worked in general set up and breakdown roles. It was a beautiful day in the Fakahatchee that was enjoyed by all volunteers. Our thanks go out to those FOF members who gave their time to help with a signature event in the park.

On March 5 and 6, botanists from Naples Botanical Gardens and Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota were in the park participating in an effort to preserve the Fakahatchee’s giant air plants currently being devoured by the Mexican bromeliad weevil. Park biologist Mike Owen devised a rescue plan and secured all necessary permits and authorizations, allowing for the harvest of numbers of the Fakahatchee’s healthy tillandsia utriculata population. These plants were placed in the care of the two botanical gardens for safe keeping. When plants develop spikes, they will be returned to the Fakahatchee and reattached to their original locations so that their seeds can be distributed. During the two day event approximately 120 healthy plants were harvested for transport to the participating botanical gardens for continued care. Plants will likely be returned to the park next December. Many thanks are due to both Naples and Selby for their contributions to this preservation effort.

The annual central slough survey was conducted on March 7, 8 and 9. Members of the resource management committee and other FOF volunteers assisted the park biologist and assorted botanical experts with the collection of data important for the management of the park’s resources. The three days were spent in sloughs locating, identifying and counting rare and endangered plants, trees, orchids, bromeliads and grasses.

Budget requests for direct park support for the FY 2014-2015 were submitted and approved by the board at the March meeting.

Lastly, the committee has secured cost estimates for a crew cab utility vehicle for use by FOF members on volunteer work days and for other necessary projects. Throughout the course of the year, the resource committee’s efforts to conduct work days to assist with the maintenance of Janes Scenic Drive as well as the most popular tram trails have been hampered by the lack of vehicles to transport our volunteers. Oftentimes work parties in excess of ten persons are available to provide a day’s labor in the park. Depending on the season, tram conditions, safety issues and other park needs, vehicle limitations prevent the efficient transport of these volunteers. The acquisition of a crew cab vehicle will allow our work day coordinators to transport an additional number of volunteers to and on the tram trails. As a result of board approval given at the March meeting, the resource management committee is in the process of purchasing a Kubota RTV 1140. FOF will retain ownership of this utility vehicle.

Resource Management Report – March 2014

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.

Resource Management Committee Report – January 2014

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.


Mike Owen leads committee members on plant surveys to locate and count sensitive species.

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.


Members of the Resource Management Team wade into their plant survey project.