We entered the trailer and called dibs on beds then went about getting settled in. A few people went to the grocery store, and the rest of us remained at the Preserve. I decided to make the most of the remaining hour of sunlight and headed out to the red trail loop, along which I was told I might see some scrub jays. The trail was not lengthy, but the sand under foot made a brisk walk nearly impossible. As I plugged along, however, one of the positive attributes of sand became quickly apparent: its ability to record tracks! Over the next two days I found wild turkey tracks, raccoon tracks, deer tracks, and the tracks of what looked like a large cat. Exciting!
Back at the dorm, the whole gang stuffed their faces, chatted about everything from politics to plants and pop culture, and, one by one, wandered off to bed.
By 10 o'clock the next morning the Education Center had filled up with members from all over the state. Anne Cox, F.N.P.S. President, pointed out a poster that I had drawn by hand and pinned up on one side of the room. It depicted our organization graphically - as composite flower - and will be featured in the upcoming Sabal Minor (so keep your eyes peeled). "It is the first org chart we've had in a long time," Anne said, "and isn't it beautiful!?"
|Richard Brownscombe spearheaded|
Initiative Group 1's meeting
The buggy placed us just high enough to see over the scrub and truly take in the magnificent landscape. Petra gave us some background about the Preserve while we rode. Apparently it encompasses 12,000 acres, the initial portion of which was donated by Disney to mitigate for expansion. With the help of the Nature Conservancy's team of ecologists, the property has been restored to what is believed to be its original state. Non-native, invasive species have been eliminated, fire-dependent habitats are maintained with controlled burns, and excessive scrub and trees are removed mechanically.
|View from the swamp buggy|
|Petra with the artificial nesting box|
We caught the beginning of sunset from the buggy, then winded our way back to the Education Center. Everyone but the overnight crew hurried back to their respective homes throughout Florida. Those of us who were sleeping on site ate potluck leftovers for dinner and enjoyed each other's company for another evening.
|Sunset from the swamp buggy|