Financial and volunteer support to preserve the unique ecology and cultural heritage of Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park and to educate the public about its importance.

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.