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DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Polk and Sumter counties of Florida

   

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January 2002 Newsletter Articles

Polk Scores Big on 2002 Florida Forever List
New Record for Cutthroat Grass!
Will the Real Sierra Club Stand Up
Train to be a Scrub Jay Watch Volunteer
Reduce the Use of Pesticides to Create a Healthier Environment

Polk Scores Big on 2002 Florida Forever List

The 2002 rankings for the Florida Forever Program, successor to Preservation 2000, were released in early December. Polk County's high level of biodiversity and importance as a water resource area are reflected in the high Group ratings:

            	
	FULL FEE PROJECTS                 GROUP    
             
        Bombing Range Ridge                 A
	Catfish Creek                       A
        Lake Wales Ridge Ecosystem          A
             
        LESS THAN FEE PROJECTS      	  GROUP    
             
        Green Swamp*                        A
        Lake Wales Ridge Ecosystem          A
        Old Town Creek Watershed            B
             
        SMALL HOLDINGS PROJECTS		   GROUP
        Lake Wales Ridge Ecosystem          A
             
        *includes remaining full fee project areas

For information on the Florida Forever Program, project rankings and descriptions, go to the DEP site http://www.dep.state.fl.us/lands/carl_ff/
...Marion Ryan

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New Record for Cutthroat Grass!

Rosie Mulholland with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Recreation and Parks, recently completed a resource inventory for the Lake Louisa State Park addition (off U.S. 27 in south Lake County) in preparation for the management plan update. Rosie made an exciting discovery.....the park, which is in the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern, now holds the northern limit record for endangered cutthroat grass!

Speaking of Lake Louisa State Park......

A lot is happening at the 4,450 acre park. Bids are being accepted for the reforestation of 850 acres of burned out citrus groves. A contract has been awarded for the construction of 50 cabins. Plans also include 60 sites for family RV and tent camping. Mitigation dollars may soon be available for some wetlands restoration too.
...Marion Ryan

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Will the Real Sierra Club Stand Up

For several years, national Sierra has sought allies in hopes of strengthening its lobbying position. We have marveled at times over the official friends list which includes labor groups, religious groups, and other social justice entities - thinking, "this is Sierra?''. In 1996 national Sierra was working on official outreach to hunter/fishermen groups and with this we felt more comfortable. After all, hasn't Ducks Unlimited and its kindred groups worked for decades to protect habitat? Certainly we differ on some issues (i.e., for hunting: which areas should be open or closed or when) but surely we have more in common than we have differences? This outreach program has been less than successful as witnessed by events on my recent trips out west, and up to Georgia.

Last summer, for the 25th consecutive year, we spent the month of July camped high in the Colorado Rockies. We enjoyed the splendor of the Gunnison National Forest (GNF) from a primitive site at an elevation of 10,200 ft. With a productive trout stream only steps away, and with the Continental Divide only a few thousand feet straight up a spectacular slope which rings the valley head, the locale is a pristine example of how I think that our forests should be managed and utilized. Mule deer abound. Occasionally elk, big horn sheep and mountain goats can be spotted on the high slopes above the tree line. Several years ago, moose were reintroduced into the GNF. Supposedly, a few adult cows and a bull or two, were released 20 or more miles from our valley. We were fortunate this year to spot and photograph a yearling cow only 3 miles from our camp site. We think this is a good indication that the project is succeeding. Yet, the area is open for hunting, and has been for years. In October, hunters move into the exact sites that we had occupied earlier. We understand that their success rate with mule deer is high and that they also take an occasional elk. The impact of this hunting seems minimal at worst. The abundance of game has grown considerably over the quarter century that we have known and enjoyed the spot.

One evening we were sitting around the campfire with neighboring campers discussing our treasure and the wonders of nature in general. Somehow, I mentioned the Sierra Club and how important I felt it’s role in conservation has been and will continue to be in the future. For the next few moments of chilled silence which followed my statement, I felt like a pariah. Then several campers that I have known for 25 years and who I know hold the same esteem for conservation that I do, began a litany of reasons why they despise the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club, they claimed is "an organization of tree-hugging ‘enviro-nazies’ who chain themselves to trees to block any harvesting of timber, who oppose the any grazing of cattle on public lands, who throw their bodies in front of bulldozers to stop development of any sort in our public lands, who throw paint on women wearing animal fur, who oppose hunting under all circumstances, who want to close all roads in our National Forests, and who are trying to make gun ownership by private US citizens a crime as they claim it now is in Australia, Canada and many European countries." I was astounded that reasonably well educated people, who have demonstrated to my satisfaction that they practice personal conservation ethics as fervently as I do, could be so misinformed about the Sierra Club. Furthermore, despite my efforts to set them straight and to dispel their fears, I am not sure that I made significant progress.

Two weeks later in the far western Aleutians at a fishing camp managed by an extremely resource friendly outfitter we encountered the same negative perspective of the Sierra Club: "Sierrans are a fringe bunch of environmental extremists who oppose even sensible utilization of our natural resources." Again, in Georgia a month ago we encountered the same attitude from hunters who ranged in socioeconomic status from engineers to good-ole-boys.

Sierra does not have a no hunting policy; the club recognizes that correctly managed hunting can be a good management tool for public lands. The negative tirade from my friends was a depressing litany of half truths and misunderstanding. I can only assume it is a product of right wing radio coupled with the fact that Sierra is viewed as the most influential grassroots conservation organization which makes it a most visible target.

Why should we care? In the fight for open space, clean water and the protection and management of wildlife, Sierra needs all the allies it can find. The club needs to revitalize its outreach to hunter/fisherman groups, to farmers, and, yes, even to industry. The public should see us as a group that effectively strives to insure that when utilization of natural resources is for the public good, this is done in a rational and renewable way. We cannot be effective if we are seen as nay sayers on all issues.

...BobTaylor
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Train to be a Scrub Jay Watch Volunteer

Habitat loss and degradation along the Lake Wales Ridge are pushing the Florida Scrub Jay towards extinction. On Saturday, February 2, 2002, from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, biologists will train citizen volunteers to help collect important information about the scrub jay. The training will take place at the Avon Park Air Force Range. To register, call Volunteer Coordinator, Carol Taylor at 863-635-7506.
...Marian Ryan

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Reduce the Use of Pesticides to Create a Healthier Environment

67 million pounds of synthetic pesticides are applied annually to home lawns; add school and golf turf and the amount rises to 73 million pounds. That equals 8 pounds of pesticide for every man, woman and child in the U.S. or 2.7 pounds per acre. That is three times more pesticide than farmers use!

5 billion pounds of pesticides are applied annually worldwide, 20% of them in the United States.

672 million birds are exposed annually; 67 million birds die. This is a conservative estimate.

50 pesticide active ingredients currently used in the U.S. have caused documented bird kills.

The EPA registers 890 active ingredients as pesticides, but this does not mean that they are safe or that they were tested in combinations.

103,046 cases of human pesticide exposure were reported in U.S. certified regional poison control centers in 1998. But these centers serve less than half the population and many cases are not reported since symptoms mimic flu.

To learn more about pesticide use, alternatives and native plants, use the Internet:


...Marion Ryan

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