Tom Palmer, Richard Coleman Conservation Award recipient  
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DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Polk and Sumter counties of Florida


Explore, Enjoy and Protect The Planet


January 2004 Newsletter Articles


FROM THE CHAIR . . . Bob Taylor

I know that all members join me in thanking Karen Kaplan for providing two years of productive leadership as our chair. We hope that she will continue to play an active role in club affairs. The executive committee met prior to festivities to confirm and install the new officers; they are Bob Taylor, Chair; Frances Coleman, Vice Chair; Marian Ryan, Secretary; and Chuck Geanangel, Treasurer.

Billye and I were especially pleased that the first major event in our newly renovated house was the gathering of old friends at the group's annual holiday party. Clearly the contractor, our own Stan Kaplan, did a great job in both design and construction.

Several of us attended a recent meeting of the Polk County Board of Commissioners in what proved to be a vain effort to block duck hunting in the marshes of the newly acquired Circle B Ranch property on the north end of Lake Hancock. Marian presented statistical data showing how few Polk County residents had actually purchased Federal Duck Stamps which are required to legally hunt ducks, whereas bird watchers and others who would use this publicly owned property measure in the thousands. Chuck Geanangel and Ken Morrison spoke on behalf of the birdwatchers. I, who am a duck hunter and member of DU, suggested this small marsh would most appropriately serve as a "resting pond" to attract waterfowl to the area and that other portions of the large lake should be developed to provide duck hunting sites. The vote was unanimous in favor of hunting. We have now started the process of forming a coalition including Audubon, Ducks Unlimited, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and possibly other conservation groups to work with SWFWMD as they design and create new filtration marshes on the southwest edge (Old Florida Plantation) of the lake. The goal of the coalition would be to improve waterfowl habitat in this and other publicly owned portions of the lake. Given the size of Lake Hancock, we should be able to accommodate the needs of duck hunters as well as birdwatchers.

We are continuing the Wood Duck Nesting Box project in Richard's memory by constructing 100 commemorative boxes available for a minimum $35 donation. All proceeds over the cost of materials (about $15) will go to the Richard L. Coleman Scholarship Fund. Your donation will help insure that the Florida environment that Richard so zealously guarded will continue to have champions and will also increase the availability of good nesting sites for Florida's resident Wood Duck population. Screech owls also love the boxes!
...Bob Taylor

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Polk County, Board of County Commissioners presented a plaque to the family of Richard L. Coleman on November 18, 2003. It read in part:

In recognition of
Mr. Coleman's years of dedication
and commitment in preserving
Polk County's
Natural Beauty and Resources

We think that the Commissioners were recognizing Richard's long term vision of providing a better future for our children and grandchildren - and we trust that his vision will continue to inspire them and us all.
....Frances H. Coleman

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Tom Palmer of Winter Haven received the Polk Group Sierra Club's newly established "Richard Coleman Conservation Award" at the Group's November meeting in Winter Haven. The award is given "In recognition of exceptional commitment to Florida's natural resources." Palmer is the volunteer land steward of the Lake Blue Scrub which is part of the Lake Wales Ridge Wildlife and Environmental Area.


picture Copyright © 2004, Frances H Coleman, All Rights Reserved

His volunteer activities include mapping, monitoring, removing trash and controlling invasive exotic vegetation in this unique site that is home to at least 12 endangered plant species and 3 species of rare animals. His hard work and dedication to protect and restore the native habitats of this preserve exemplifies the conservation values of recently deceased renowned Sierran and Polk Group member, Richard Coleman. The award was presented by Chuck Geanangel.
...Marian Ryan

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picture Copyright © 2004, Frances H Coleman, All Rights Reserved


Hillsborough River State Park November 22nd was a beautiful day to be at the Hillsborough River State Park. It was also a great day for our outing participants to observe the subtle changes this park continues to experience.

Driving into the park we could see evidence of a hardwood removal program. It may seem unusual that a state park would intentionally remove perfectly good water and laurel oaks. However, from the 1930s through the 1970s the park’s policy was to exclude fire, which caused displacement of much of the native vegetation. For the past 30 years the park has used prescribed burns and hardwood removal to allow the return of pines and saw palmettos.

We enjoyed a two hour guided hike by park ranger David Alderman. We walked along the river, and learned that it is fed by two sources: Crystal Springs to the north provides a steady 40 millions of clear water per day and the Green Swamp provides even more water (especially during the rainy season). At the river’s edge we saw how large submerged limestone outcroppings create rapids in the river (yes, the Hillsborough River has rapids!); this is an area where paddling is not allowed.


picture Copyright © 2004, Frances H Coleman, All Rights Reserved

After a well-deserved picnic lunch, we hopped on an open shuttle (a very squeaky shuttle) to travel across the street to visit Fort Foster. The fort is on park property, and is the only standing replica of a Second Seminole War fort in the United States. Another park ranger took us on a guided tour of the fort. If you think you are roughing it when you are camping, you need to visit Fort Foster to see how these soldiers fared during the 1800s.

If you are interested in joining us on future outings, please plan to join us!
....Gail Bagley

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The following information was compiled because it is necessary to have accurate information on hunting, fishing and passive recreational uses in Polk County. These facts should weigh into management plan development decisions for our Environmental Lands Program properties and other conservation land purchases. The studies sited below show that wildlife viewing activities far surpass hunting and fishing in the number of participants, retail sales, tax revenues, economic impact and jobs. However, since hunting and fishing generate specific revenue streams in the form of licenses, permits and special taxes on equipment, agencies have a strong tendency to make management decisions that cater to these interests.

Polk County Population...............................502,241
    (Polk County Planning Division
    from Fast Facts: UF Economic & Business Research)
Registered Voters in Polk County.....................273,596
(Polk County Elections Web Page 11/04/03)
Hunting Licenses issued 7/1/02-6/30/03 to Residents in Polk County............................7,061
(Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission) Includes: Res. Freshwater fish & hunt; sportsman; Res. Gold sportsman; hunting; permanent senior; fresh, salt & hunt; infant, youth & adult lifetime sportsman; infant & adult lifetime hunting; 5 year hunting. Note: This number is 1.41% of Polk Co. population.
Waterfowl Permits issued 7/1/02-6/30/03 to Residents in Polk County..............................513 Note: This number is .1% of Polk Co. population.
Fishing Licenses issued 7/1/02-6/30/03 to Residents in Polk County...........................23,786 (Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission) Includes: Res. Freshwater fish & hunt; sportsman; Res. Gold sportsman; freshwater 12-month fishing; permanent senior; fresh & salt fishing; fresh, salt & hunt; infant, youth & adult lifetime sportsman; infant & adult lifetime freshwater. Note: This number is 4.74% of Polk Co. population.
Public Lands (natural areas) available for hunting 
in close proximity to Polk County
  (Sources - FWCC Web Site, Avon Park Air Force Range)
    Site	                  Acres  Additional Uses
Arbuckle WMA	                 13,530  Fishing 
Avon Park Air Force Range        82,000  Fishing 
Green Swamp WMA East Unit        49,768  Fishing & Frogging
Green Swamp WMA West Unit        34,335  Fishing & Frogging
Hilochee WMA	                  9,369	
Kicco WMA	                  7,426  Fishing & Frogging
Upper Hillsborough WMA	          5,178  	
Lake Marion Creek WMA	          8,083  Fishing & Frogging
Upper Hillsborough WMA	          5,178  Fishing & Frogging
Walk-In-The-Water WMA	          5,959  Fishing & Frogging
Richloam WMA 	                 56,401	
Total acres                     277,227	

Large Non-Hunting Public Lands 
in close proximity to Polk County
    Site	                        Acres
Catfish Creek Preserve State Park	8,078
Lake Kissimmee State Park	        5,934
Lake Louisa State Park	                4,407
Babson/Hesperides	                  913
Total acres                            19,332	

Total non-hunting public lands are approximately 6.5% of 
the available land.  Total hunting public lands are 
approximately 93.5% of the available land.

Tourism & Economic Development
* Mid December through Easter (mid April) is the high season for tourism in Polk County. (Source: Central Florida Visitors & Convention Bureau) This is also the time of year with cooler, more pleasant weather, when families are most likely to enjoy hiking, picnicking, and wildlife viewing activities. The recently released Randal Travel Marketing, Inc. study for the Polk County Tourist Development Council recommends inventorying existing resources and building product awareness for the following: boat rentals, biking, outfitters and guides for fishing, biking, camping, water sports, birding; greater promotion of air boat rides; birding, etc..

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission staff commissioned two recently completed studies of the economic benefit of wildlife resources. The first was of Florida’s fish and wildlife related recreation statewide in 2000.

The economic benefits by type of recreational activity are:

               Participants   Retail Sales   Sales Tax  Economic Impact   Jobs 
                    233,992   $356,812,910  $21,408,775   $383,994,869  12,492
Freshwater Fishing
                  1,375,875    958,117,521   57,487,050  1,029,352,530  18,759
Wildlife Viewing
                  3,938,918  1,887,887,300  113,273,243  1,993,645,537  52,140

* More than one out of every five state residents are wildlife viewers
and spend an average of $696 annually on trip related and equipment 
expenditures. (Source:  FWCC study above)

The second study published February 10, 2003:
The 2001 Economic Benefits of Watchable Wildife Recreation
in Florida, (Southwick Associates, Inc.)

 	         Resident	 Non-Resident	Total
Retail sales	      
           $1.173 billion   $402.1 million    $1.575 billion
Salaries & wage       
           $494.3 million   $224.5 million    $718.8 million
Full & part-time jobs
             19,487	         8,940	          28,427
Tax revenues:			
State sales tax
            $65.4 million    $14.2 million	79.6 million
Federal income tax
            $80.5 million    $36.9 million    $117.4 million
Total economic effect 
           $2.079 billion   $782.1 million    $2.861 billion


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Tom Palmer, Richard Coleman Conservation Award recipient


masthead picture: Tom Palmer, Richard Coleman Conservation Award recipient , published with permission
Copyright © 2004, Frances H. Coleman, All Rights Reserved

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