Ridge Rangers November 2013 Newsletter

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November 2013 Newsletter

Volunteers restoring wildlife habitat on the Lake Wales Ridge and nearby areas in central Florida.


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In this newsletter

Two young girls pot acorns at the Ridge Rangers booth at Boktoberfest

October 19 at Boktoberfest: Ridge Rangers Roger Bergere and Kathy Debriyn look on as two nature-decorated attendees help pot acorns at the Ridge Rangers booth. 

Project Acorn at Boktoberfest

Pot an acorn, save a scrub jay

Ridge Rangers did something different at this year’s Boktoberfest: engaging attendees to pot acorns! At the Ridge Rangers booth on October 19, around 200 festival attendees potted 1700 acorns in 610 containers. Twelve Ridge Rangers oversaw the effort and many thanks go to them for their time and effort.

The potted acorns from Boktoberfest are now in the native plant nursery at the FWC Royce unit, and Ridge Rangers will maintain the sprouts through the winter and spring and then plant the baby oaks next summer in scrub oak restoration areas on the Lake Wales Ridge. This restoration project is also supported by a recent $25,000 grant from the Disney Worldwide Conservation fund. Learn more about this effort at Project Acorn.

Ridge Rangers will be engaging festival attendees to pot acorns again this Saturday at CCC Days at Highlands Hammock State Park. See November Events below.

Warea Tract Project

[Editor’s note: Starting in October and going thru December, Ridge Rangers are doing a series of workdays at the Warea Tract of the Seminole State Forest, near Clermont and on the Lake Wales Ridge. Mike Jenkins from the Florida Forest Service tells us more below about the Warea tract and the project]

The Warea Tract is an outlier tract of the Seminole State Forest, east of Clermont, in Polk County Florida, and is not accessible to the public without permission. The high-quality, Longleaf Pine/Turkey Oak/Wiregrass Sandhill habitat there was identified by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory as unique due to the fact that it contains the highest number of federally-listed plants in any Sandhill habitat in Florida and has a diverse ground layer of grasses and forbs. The site was acquired in 1997 and has an ongoing oak removal effort which includes herbicide application of large oaks. Following the herbicide application, the dead oaks could potentially fall on or adjacent to the large Longleaf Pines, forming potential “bonfires” at the bases of the trees during a prescribed fire that could kill the pines. With an already low abundance of Longleaf Pines, these unnaturally  heavy fuels need to be removed by hand from around pines, pine seedlings, and individual federally-listed plants.

The Florida Forest Service appreciate your efforts helping this special place!

November Events

Friday and Saturday, November 8 and 9
Hand removal of dead oaks from plant areas - Warea Tract Project
(Near Clermont)
Large, dead oaks are falling on top of Longleaf Pine and rare plants at an unnaturally high rate and the Florida Forest Service is requesting Ridge Ranger help removing these limbs and tree parts (Ridge Rangers won’t be asked to operate heavy tools). Join us for one or both days!
Leaders: Mike Jenkins from the FFS and Jason Hewitt from the Ridge Rangers.
Links for more and to sign up: http://outreach.myfwc.com/event/WareaNovFriday and
Saturday, November 9
Ridge Rangers Outreach at CCC Days at Highlands Hammock State Park
(Near Sebring)
We’ll be engaging festival attendees to pot acorns and of course we’ll be talking about the Lake Wales Ridge Ecosystem and the Ridge Rangers program. It’s fun and you’ll meet some interesting people!
This effort is part of Project Acorn – a multiyear effort to restore damaged scrub oak habitat on the Lake Wales Ridge.
Leader: Bill Parken from FWC
Morning and afternoon session. Link for more and to sign up: http://outreach.myfwc.com/event/CCCdays2013 

Saturday, November 16
Remove Sand Pines at Archbold Biological Station
(Near Lake Placid)
Whew – there must be a real problem with sand pines intruding into scrub oak habitat! Archbold is also requesting Ridge Ranger help to help restore habitat, and we’ll be using hand saws and powered saws to cut down these unwanted pines and other small trees.
Agency Leaders: Kevin Main from Archbold and Bill Parken from FWC
Link for more and to sign up: http://outreach.myfwc.com/event/ArchboldNov
No Ridge Rangers workdays from November 23 through November 30.
Have a great Thanksgiving!!!

Events on the Ridge Rangers Calendar into 2014

Grant to Ridge Ranger Program

Kevin Kane and Diana Miller

Kevin Kane and Diana Miller at Hilochee WMA in July 2012

Ridge Ranger Kevin Kane works for the Disney Corporation as a demand planner, and earlier this year successfully nominated the Ridge Ranger program for a $1,000 grant! These grants are called "Ears to You", and Kevin notes that the Walt Disney Company is committed to being a community partner and encourages each of their employees to become involved, and that the Ears to You program is just one of the ways that the company supports that strategy.

In addition to their volunteer efforts, Kevin and his wife Diana (also a Ridge Ranger) have been financially supportive of conservation efforts as long as they have been married --28 years this past May!

On behalf of the Ridge Rangers, we thank Kevin and Diana and the Disney Corporation! The funds from this most-appreciated grant will be going into the Ridge Rangers 501(c)(3) account, and will be used to purchase items for the program for which state funds can’t be used.

Update - HCA Outreach Project

Heartland Cultural Alliance exhibit at Kotler Art Gallery in the John F. Germany Library

Heartland Cultural Exchange photography exhibit about the Lake Wales Ridge Ecosystem at the Kotler Art Gallery in the John F. Germany Library in Tampa. Photograph by Fred Leavitt.

In 2012, Ridge Rangers helped support an outreach effort with the Heartland Cultural Alliance (HCA) to engage photographers and artists to capture the landscapes and wildlife on the Lake Wales Ridge.

Selected photographs and art from this initiative were turned into a well-attended exhibit at Kenilworth Lodge in Sebring earlier this year, which many of you may have seen.  Members of the HCA have now made the exhibit into a roving display so others around the state can learn about our unique ecosystem, and the display has just opened in Tampa at the John F. Germany Library!

Special acknowledgement goes to Ridge Ranger Patty Lloyd for her outstanding support of this exhibit … and for always making sure it has plenty of Ridge Ranger recruiting brochures!

Reference Links

Ridge Rangers Home Page: http://www.myfwc.com/ridgerangers

For Land Managers: Workday Request Form

Would you like to find out about the Ridge Rangers program, including how to participate? Send an email to the Ridge Rangers Coordinator

The Ridge Rangers Online Calendar has our schedule of upcoming volunteer events.

For Ridge Rangers working independently: find out how to report your hours at this link

Ridge Rangers Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ridgerangers

Ridge Rangers on Twitter:   http://twitter.com/ridgerangers   @ridgerangers

Would you like to make a donation to help support Ridge Ranger workdays? See Ridge Rangers 501 (c)(3) Fund

Ridge Rangers and FWC Staff search for ripe acorns along a firebreak

Near Avon Park on October 5, 2013: Ridge Rangers and FWC staff search for ripe acorns along a firebreak in scrub oak habitat at FWC Silver Lake. Photo by Harry Ressler.


The Ridge Rangers Monthly Newsletter is edited by Bill Parken, Ridge Rangers Coordinator. Contact email: bill.parken@myfwc.com

The Ridge Rangers are sponsored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and work with all conservation agencies and organizations managing land on the Lake Wales Ridge and nearby areas.