The Not Bored Board: FNPS Directors Meet in Orlando

The FNPS Board of Directors meetings are anything but boring! As the Committee chairs, chapter representatives and elected officials from all over the state converge in one small space - and any space is small when this group gets together! - the air is absolutely electrified with ideas, news, reports, and passionate speeches on an astonishing variety of topics. Saturday's meeting at the beautiful public library in downtown Orlando was no exception.

This blog post is no way meant to take the place of  minutes, which, by the way, are accessible to the whole wide world on our website. Peg Lindsay, a recent guest blogger here, is our secretary, and she took very complete notes, as always. But since I'm just a blogger, I get to tell this story!

One thing I was very anxious to hear about was the report from our Policy and Legislation Chair,
Gene Kelly, who had recently returned from the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference. You may remember that last year, native plant societies from the southeastern states were invited to attend the FNPS Annual Conference and discuss common interests and possible future collaboration. The group met, decided to continue the alliance, and to convene again at Cullowhee this year, calling themselves the Summit of Southeastern Native Plant Societies.

Gene reported that representatives from Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia attended the three-hour Summit at Cullowhee in 2011.  Mississippi and Louisiana were at the Conference but unable to attend, but Mississippi confirmed  their Society's interest in participating in the continuing activities of the coalition.
Sawtoothed oak    Quercus acutissima
It turned out that one of the hot-button topics for this group was invasives. The Kentucky Native Plant Society (KNPS) asked for assistance in opposing  an ongoing project by the Kentucky state government to promote widespread planting of the sawtooth oak, Quercus acutissima. This is an oak that is native to East Asia. It has gotten a reputation for producing more mast, (heavy crop of acorns) than some of our native oaks. Interstingly, when I went to look for some pictures of this tree, I found one I was allowed to use from the St. Louis Botanical Garden, but they listed the mast as being of "low" food value.  

The Global Invasive Species Programme includes sawtooth oak in a list of species demonstrated to be invasive, but still included in lists of plants being considered for biofuel crops. Well, in Kentucky they are thinking that great amounts of mast will support more deer which will in turn support sport for hunters. It's hard to imagine that anybody wants more deer, isn't it? Other Summit participants note that their states had also promoted the sawtooth oak, going so far as to  provide free seedlings to landowners. I know. Good grief. 

The coalition representatives agreed to research occurrence of the species in their states and also evidence of invasiveness, so that all could be better prepared to form a joint-state opposition to the promotion of this tree, as it appears likely that other states may follow Kentucky's example. In addition, they decided to meet regularly throughout the year by teleconference, and to work on getting a website up to explain who they are and document actions taken. They all agreed that Gene really ought to continue as their unofficial leader. Thanks, Gene! 

Several committees were involved with the issues that surround the placement of new, privately funded campgrounds in state parks, and with opening new lands to hunting: see blog posts of July 29, hunting,  and July 6, parks. I am going to share the letter that states FNPS's position in a separate post today,  it has already been sent. The letter with FNPS's position on hunting will be posted when available, soon.
Progress is being made on the new FNPS website which is going to have an awesome searchable plant database among other things...

Esmeralda Marsh Conservation Area

Checks have been cut for this years' Conservation grant awards, one for the Esmeralda Marsh Conservation Area Hardwood Restoration project, and one for the  Reintroduction of the Fragrant Prickly Apple-Cactus project. Esmeralda is an amazingly beautiful spot, and it's wonderful that hardwood restoration will be happening there, thanks to donations from FNPS donors.

Rainlilies blooming at Esmeralda Marsh

 There was lots more, of course, but to conclude here, think about this. The theme for next years'
conference (2012 - yes, we're thinking about that already) is going to be

Preserving the Heart of Florida

Which is, after all, what FNPS is all about. Have you joined yet?

sue dingwell
communications chair



Anonymous said…
Sounds like a busy meeting. Thanks for reporting.

V. Avery
Loret said…
nice synopsis Sue

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