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Florida Tree Planting Event Lands a Special Guest Star
Guest post by Bruce Brown, the Director of the Florida Scrub-Jay Consortium in Clermont, Florida.
Here at the Florida Scrub-Jay Trail in Clermont Florida, we kicked off National Wildlife Week two days early and spread it out over the next seven days to accommodate the community’s schedules.
We’re planting trees on the Scrub-Jay Trail, a habitat restoration project designed to provide a safe haven for the federally threatened Florida scrub-jay, Florida’s only endemic bird. During National Wildlife Week, we will introduce 500 trees into the scrub habitat, consisting of chapman oak (quercus chapmanii) and myrtle oak (quercus myrtifolia) which provide excellent cover, nesting and food supply for the jays. In the transitional sandhill zones, we’re planting 100 flatwoods plum, southern red cedar and longleaf pine.
Prior to the planting, we provide the volunteers with an educational session, utilizing the NWF provided curriculum. Additionally, we discuss the trees the scrub-jay and its companion species need for their existence.
On day 1, three families were planting scrub oaks on the western end of the Trail when we heard the distinctive call of the scrub-jay. As soon as we spotted the jay, 10 year old Lauren Wagner extended her hand and to her amazement, the scrub-jay flew down and landed on her hand where it stayed for at least 30 seconds. This is the same life-changing scenario that involved eight year old Sarah Morningstar, six years ago. She went on to become an active proponent of scrub-jay habitat protection. (see Ranger Rick February 2011 edition) We’re hoping Lauren will follow in Sarah’s footsteps.
Many groups are scheduled over the rest of the event, ranging from Daisy scouts, to cub scouts, and adult groups.
The Branching Out for Wildlife program is proving to be a big hit with kids and families, and National Wildlife Week activities are high on our list of annual projects.