Thursday, January 15, 2009

History of Abuse

1938 Our little forest has been around awhile. Aerials from the thirties show at least some woods around the persistent wetland. As the surrounding area developed over the years our little woods, like many natural areas adjacent to development, became an easy dumping ground. Even after many concerted cleanup efforts (including one that entailed 50 dump truck loads to the landfill over a two week period of time in 1990!) there is still a considerable amount of trash to be found in the Back Woods. Much of this material is buried in sandy mounds in off trail locations, or had been obscured by the recently treated non native invasive vegetation, or is slowly working its way to the surface here and there.

DSCN6828Some of the volunteers during Saturday’s Florida Arbor Day event took to the woods armed with gloves, trash bags, and some serious determination. Part of their haul for the day was some 40 tires that were buried deep in overgrown saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) that had also been covered in invasive air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) vine.

All though the presence of this junk makes me angry and a little incredulous, I like DSCN4528to channel that frustration into action. A continued concerted methodical effort to clear the Back Woods of trash by staff and volunteers will significantly improve the habitat and aesthetics. The act of cleaning can serve to educate those doing the job and those witness to their efforts about the impact dumping has on our natural resources. If you would like to be a part of that effort please, let me know.

New Water Tank


Awesome new friend to the Back Woods, David, has donated a water tank to fit the gator. Repurposed from a commercial red wine vinegar container, David outfitted it with hose connections and hose so we can use it to water our newly planted trees. The setup is a simple gravity feed operation to deliver the water and the whole thing is manageable to move in and out of the gator (empty of course) by two people. David told me he and friends first got cued into the potential repurpose of these tanks when looking for a drinking water rain cistern for some folks in need in the Caribbean. I love working with people who can see alternative potential in every opportunity. They are an inspiration. Thank you, David!


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Twittering in the Forest

Ever following Kristen's lead over at Lepcurious, the MOSI butterfly garden blog, we have succumbed to the temptation of twittering.
Follow us at TheLongleaf on Twitter

Types of Trees Planted

Pat from Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful is fortunately keeping me on my toes. How could I have forgot such a detail. Would you like to know what we planted? Check out the list below.

Trees Planted:
Qty. 10 3-gallon loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus)
Qty. 10 3-gallon dahoon holly (Ilex cassine)
Qty. 3 15-gallon dahoon holly (Ilex cassine)
Qty. 10 3-gallon Simpson’s stopper (Myrcianthes fragrans)
Qty. 3 15-gallon Simpson’s stopper (Myrcianthes fragrans)
Qty. 20 3-gallon redbay (Persea borbonia)
Qty. 3 15-gallon redbay (Persea borbonia)
Qty. 50- 3-gallon longleaf pine (Pinus palustris)
Qty. 10 3-gallon Walter’s viburnum (Viburnum obovatum)
Qty. 3 15-gallon Walter’s viburnum (Viburnum obovatum)

Additionally we never got to another 10 3 gal black gum (Nyssa sylvatica biflora) and a member of the SAF student chapter donated some 3 gal basswood (Tilia americana). The black gum (I call them tupelo) will find a home in the depths of the wetlands and the bass wood will find a home somewhere in the flatwoods transition.

After the planting a volunteer asked why I chose the species I did. We didn't exactly get our first choices due to the time of year and availability from the nursery industry. But, the thought behind all the choices was the same. I wanted to find species that were commonly found in the habitats exhibited in the Back Woods (sandhill, flatwoods, hardwood wetland, transitions). And, I tried to find species that would increase the diversity of plant species and provide resources for wildlife.

More soon on some of those individual tree species...

Tree Planting Photo Album

More pictures of all the happenings at MOSI in celebration of Florida Arbor Day

Florida Arbor Day

If you can help me place names to faces please check out the album on picasa and email me the info at

Florida Arbor Day Tree Planting Event

This past Saturday January 10th 2009, we celebrated Florida Arbor Day with a volunteer tree planting and an outdoor exhibition. The trees for the planting were provided by a grant to MOSI through a partnership of the USDA Forest Service, the Florida Division of Forestry and the National Football League to promote urban reforestation in the Tampa Bay Watershed in conjunction with Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa Bay.

The real stars of the day were 80 plus volunteers who pre-registered to help us plant 120 trees in the Back Woods and Bioworks Butterfly Garden. (Many of our volunteers found out about us through the great efforts of the folks at Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful.)

The volunteers stepped up to the challenge of matching names and color codes of half a dozen different species of trees and finding pre-flagged locations in the Back Woods to plant them.

The volunteers made short work of their individual planting tasks, returning to the staging area again and again looking for more plants to get in the ground.

Scout Pack 78 St Francis of Assisi single handedly tackled 10 15 gallon trees in the butterfly garden. Those young men and their leaders did an absolutely awesome job! Hopefully we will be working with these powerhouses in the future in the Back Woods.

Volunteers found many other ways to make an impact in addition to the planting. New friend to the Back Woods, volunteer Rich, brought an entire collection of tree and brush cutting tools. Rich undertook felling a massive invasive exotic tree in the forest that had been killed by herbicide treatments. (pictures soon) Thank you Rich! Another group offered clean-up service in the Back Woods. A pile of 40 plus tires along the trail pulled from the brush is proof of their days work, awesome (pictures soon)! Another new friend to the Back Woods, volunteer David, has offered to outfit our gator with a water tank to help establish all the trees planted. WOW, thank you David! And can not forget to thank regular MOSI volunteers Hands On Tampa Bay who staffed our volunteer check in and helped with the event set up and staffing.

Exhibitors for the celebration included Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful (KHCB), Florida Division of Forestry (FLDOF), University of Florida Plant City, Society of American Foresters(Caribbean Chapter), A-1 Assets, and One Source.
Pat DePlasco of KHCB had t-shirts for all of our volunteers and spent the day sharing information on litter prevention and clean-up. Carrie Kotal, Polk County Forester, represented the Florida Division of Forestry bringing with her Smokey the Bear and another forester on call for wildfire situations with his cool ride. Dr. Martin Wortman was on hand from UF to share info that the University of Florida has a satellite campus in Plant City where you can pursue a 4 year degree from UF in Natural Resource Conservation or Agriculture Education without ever going to Gainesville. Certified arborist Annie from One Source was on hand to discuss tree maintenance. One Source Management, Inc, our grounds company, also graciously sponsored the materials to offer a bird seed craft for our littler guests. A-1 Assets was on hand to offer small electronics recycling for our guests. And the Caribbean Chapter of the Society of American Foresters offered a selection of native tree seedlings for sale as part of their annual scholarship fundraising.

Special thanks also go out to many who helped by lending us the tools to make the day possible. MOSI employees contributed a nearly a dozen shovels to the task. Landscape design firm Plant Adoption Landscape, Inc lent out their entire compliment of shovels to us for the day. And the real heroes were the Special Events Team of Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation who filled in the gap by bringing enough shovels and rakes to put a tool in every volunteer’s hands. Park Ranger Charles Moss also kept track of all our tools and resupplied volunteers with materials throughout the day.

Additional thanks go out to some special friends who helped make this day possible; Mindy Moss (Consulting Forester: NRPS) who was invaluable in helping me promote and stage this event, Erin Givens (Continuing Education Coordinator Hillsborough Community College - Plant City Campus) who was my crack photographer for the day, Walter Givens who tackled all my last minute staging craziness with a smile, Lisa Leonard MOSI Events and Promotions Coordinator who helped turn a planting into an event, Kristen Gilpin MOSI Bioworks Butterfly Garden and her volunteers, T.J. Couch and his "deuce and a half", and Will Moriaty of T.R.E.E. Inc. who has worked diligently to coordinate the all the parties involved in the NFL tree planting initiative and has promoted reforestation in Tampa Bay for over 20 years.

I am sure there are many more I may have missed unintentionally; Thank you all for participating and contributing to habitat restoration in the Back Woods.

Florida Arbor Day Celebration and Tree Planting

WOW, what a wonderful day! We had an overwhelming turnout of volunteers (over 80 registered volunteers) to help us plant over 120 trees in the Back Woods and Bioworks Butterfly Garden.
More details on the way! I have so many Thank Yous to make!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Florida Arbor Day Volunteers

MOSI is celebrating Florida Arbor Day this Saturday January 10th with a mass volunteer planting of 100+ trees in the Back Woods forest preserve and the BioWorks Butterfly Garden. In addition to the plantings, there will nature and tree related craft activities for the kids, a native tree seedling sale, recycling info from the City of Tampa, info from the Florida Division of Forestry, and more!! The event takes place from 11am to 3pm.

Now what was that about volunteers? Well, I just wanted to note that we have an overwhelming response to our call for volunteers to help with our planting! I owe many thanks to Andrea Barber at Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful, Mindy Moss with the Caribbean chapter of the Society of American Foresters, Rob Northrop Hillsborough County Extension Forester, and the marketing staff here at MOSI for getting the word out to potential volunteers!

If you are volunteering this Saturday, thank you in advance. This is going to be a wonderful day to get outdoors, plant a tree, and get involved with the restoration of the Back Woods forest. It is my hope that many of you will want to return to volunteer for more restoration activities!