What a wonderfully frosty start to the new year. Much of the Back Woods vegetation is thoroughly dormant right now. The few Semi evergreen and evergreen trees and shrubs stand out starkly against the sleeping skeletons of deciduous trees. The warming weather has brought our gopher tortoises out foraging to make up for lost time in a torpor over the wintery past couple of weeks. We did catch a fine example of some mighty generous and frosty gopher tortoise poo deposited right before the freezes.
Volunteers George, Shayna, and Catlin helped me finish pulling up the last of the plastic on the main trail in preparation for the new shell bed. Local contractor Scheid’s Tractor Service did an awesome job of laying out the shell and doing a finally grade by hand! Thanks Eddie, it looks great. The new trail really looks fabulous and feels great underfoot. It is definitely crunchy, as a couple of people noted, but that should evolve as the material breaks down under traffic. The new surface is now much safer surface for hikers of all abilities. Take a moment to peak your feet from time to time, there is some other fossiliferous material mixed in with shell. You might just find a sharks tooth or two if you have a keen eye.
More on the Volunteer front: Great news for the Back Woods! Volunteer Catlin has begun an internship with us in conjunction with finishing an Environmental Science and Policy degree at USF. We are very happy to have her input and help as we complete the last of the requirements of our EPC grant and move on implementing a new grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service rehabbing the uplands.
The past two weeks have been a doozies for finding the weird in the Back Woods. A collection of the usual unusual as we continue to pick up and maintain the preserve.