In Case You Missed It...Noteworthy highlights from the speakers at the FNPS 36th Annual Conference, May 18-22, 2016

Submitted by Sid Taylor

The conference was at Dayton Beach Resort right on the Atlantic Ocean.  Surf temp was a warm 78 degrees.  There were Least Terns on the beach.

Tom Hoctor. Photo by Vince Lamb
Dr. Tom Hoctor, Director of the University of Florida Center for Landscape Conservation Planning, updated us on the status of the Florida Wildlife Corridors and habitat preservation. 

  •  With the loss in oversight of growth management at the state level, we need to step in with science to help local governments understand the impact of decisions in new building projects and sprawl.  He quoted Frank Egler:  Ecosystems not only are more complex than we think, but more complex than we can think. 
  • Panthers need a population of 240 individuals to be delisted by the Federal Government as an endangered species.   The Florida Black Bear was delisted four years ago but it still needs corridors for connectivity and exchange of genetic information for healthy offspring.  They have an expanding population, but a shrinking habitat. The Panther would do well in the Florida Panhandle, but females’ offspring stay in the home range of their mothers, so it would take many generations to expand there on their own.
  • See the Conservation Trust for Florida, Inc. for more on protection and connecting Florida’s wild and working landscapes.

Tim Rumage of supports E. O. Wilson’s new book, Half-Earth:Our Planet’s Fight for Life.
  • The concept being: we need to conserve 50% of the planet’s natural vegetation intact to sequester CO2 so the human population can persist.  Rumage says that 7.3 billion of us have already modified ½ the surface of the earth and we need to stop now to keep breathing.  He also reported more than six times the amount of land sourced plastic is in the oceans than plankton.  He says we confuse “legally safe” (i.e. water standards) and “harmful”.  He talked about traveling to international seminars and seeing (interior) vertical vs. (exterior) horizontal agriculture. 
  • Rumage thinks 6 billion of us will live in cities by 2050. Solutions to human existence will require an intersection of art and design.  Rumage’s book is This Spaceship Earth.

Dr. Patrick Bohlen from University of Central Florida (UCF) spent 11 years at Archbold Biological Station. He reports 82% of North Americans already live in cities. In comparison, 4.74 % of US land use is urban, but in Florida it is 16% now and projected (by the 1000 Friends of Florida) to be 34% by 2060.  Six of the fastest growing metro areas in the nation are here in Florida. We are back to receiving 1000 new residents daily, but we still have bears, bobcats and coyotes on UCF campus thanks to the Little Econ River on west and Big Econ River on the east.  Gallberry doesn’t survive on campus in the landscape due to high pH in water used for irrigation.  Same for longleaf pine.

Steve Kintner of the Blue Spring Alliance, addressed the need for a water ethic. (read Blue Revolution: Unmaking America's Water Crisis by Cynthia Barnett).  Steve was inspirational in his continued “plugging along” of public education for protection and restoration of the quantity and quality of our (finite amount) of water flow.

Dr. John Weishampel introduced us to LiDAR technology for mapping Caracol in the Cayo District of Belize from the air and how it depicts ancient human landscape legacies on the contemporary forest structure.  Inhabited from @900 BC to 1050 AD it supported 100,000 people…till it didn’t.  With this new tool we are learning human impact on the land.

Dr. Hyun Jung Cho has an ID book: Plants in Urban Water Ways within the Halifax River/Mosquito Lagoon that will be a superb resource state-wide.  Bethune-Cookman University, Professor, Integrated Environmental Science,

Dr. Richard Hisenbeck’s topic is the Nature Conservancy’s Florida Panther Conservation and Connectivity.  With our 20 million population and 100 million tourists each year, he still has hope for the female panther offspring moving themselves (eventually) into rich habitat in the panhandle.  He told us of work with Lykes Brothers at Fish Eating Creek to provide a crucial 355,000 protected acres (plus a buffer of 68,000) for movement up a narrow corridor (through Lykes) to a traditional panther Caloosahatchee River crossing.  His equation for panther survival in Florida is 4 million acres.  With the 2.25 million that is the Everglades, Big Cypress, Panther Conservation core and the 1.75 million acres (on 90 individual properties) between Lykes and Disney Wilderness Area, he believes we have what they need.  Current numbers are upward of 160 cats and maybe as many as 180.

Dr. Austin Mast of FSU’s Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium wants our help to get all our buried museum specimens (including herbarium sheets) into digital Information and scientific communication via iDigBio.  There is a worldwide blitz event Oct.23-26, 2016.  Learn more on how easy it to contribute a little time at and and They will work with you (or your group’s) special interests in the cataloging.  Even preschoolers can help.  They look at 3 interpretations of each label to eliminate errors.

Dr. Charles Hinkle has studied C02 at the Kennedy space Center since 1990.  Ambient/background CO2 was 350/ppm when he stated and now it is 400/ppm.  At UCF he records significant differences with tests from the west (Orlando urban smog) and to east (green space, agriculture and St. John’s River).  The Department of Transportation is funding his study on CO2 sinks.  Longleaf Pine forests are back to sequestering CO2 after a prescribed burn within 2 to 3 months.

Dave Westervelt, 46 year Florida beekeeper (charmer),  with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services(FDACS). 
  • Humans have been robbing bees for their honey for 15, 000 years and they were brought from Europe to Jamestown on one of the first ships of colonists 400 years ago.
  • There are 15 kinds of Florida honey; Clover is starting the fill the niche left by citrus greening.  Florida is the 3rd largest honey producer in the world. The greatest quantity is gallberry and saw palmetto. 
  • Almond growers in California are dependent upon the February and March shipments of migratory commercial hives that travel on semi-trucks:  24,000 colonies a season.  We ship bees to 27 or 28 states a year for farming pollination.  We produce Queens that are sold and relocated all over the country. 
  • The Florida State Beekeepers Association is planning a new entomology lab with a teaching lab to seat 400.  Besides honey bees, we have over 60 native species of pollinators in Florida.  You can do your part with planting just a 4-foot by 8-foot plot of native plants. It will increase your local pollinators by three times.
Roger Hammer. Photo by Vince Lamb
Roger Hammer thrilled us with photos from his new book:  Central Florida Wildflowers: A Field Guide and his work in progress, which is state-wide.  He dedicated the former to his best pal growing up, his brother, and his parents who “told me to go outside and play!”  He didn’t tell us about how he is consulting with the Discovery channel on Naked and Afraid.  Probably says things like “don’t climb a poisonwood tree”.

Dr. Jason Smith, is studying the remnant Glacier period Torreya tree, its demise and its canker and what other trees the canker will infect. His team has found 645 individual trees in and around Torreya State Park and Chattahoochee.  When they get over a meter tall they show signs of the canker.  They die back, re-sprout and it happens again. Several conifer species that grow in the Great Smoky Mountain National park (like Frasier Fir) are part of his study. The disease does better in cooler climates.  A do-gooder group called Torreya Guardians is growing Torreya and planting them in North Carolina and the southern Appalachians. They say they are getting out ahead of “the science”.  It is called “assisted recolonization”.  Dr. Smith has tried to share his findings with them, but hasn’t been able to convince them they may be taking the canker to other native tree species (which are fitting their own battles). There is a huge, mature Florida Torreya in Madison, Florida on a lawn. You can find his 2012 paper on Fusarium torreyae here. [Update: FNPS now is incubating the TorreyaKeepers project to assist in recovery of the Florida Torreya tree in its native range. Keep up with the project here.]

Osborn. Photo by Vince Lamb
Nathaniel Osborn
has a great history book on Indian River Lagoon:  An Environmental History.  It covers from the north end of the Mosquito Lagoon in Volusia County all the way south to Hobe Sound.  And is a good treatise on how man manipulates his locale.

Craig Huegel gave us a common sense lecture:  A Gardener’s Guide to How Roots Work from that chapter in his book in progress.  It starts with “don’t be afraid to pull them out of the pot and see if they are permanently headed in circles around the inside of the pot before you buy them”.  They will have to be cut off; they will never stop growing in circles.  Plants are all about water.  They transpire up to 95% of their daily uptake, daily.  But they also have to have air pockets around the roots to breath.

David Hartgrove of Audubon presented slides and anecdotes of local birds.  The Black-Bellied Plover nests in Iceland, but winters on Daytona Beach and surrounds.  Royal and least terns nest in Florida.  A flock of 10 gull species can be seen all winter, beginning in November, in a grouping of 10,000 that hangs and roosts on the beach from 1900 S. Atlantic Ave to the 2000 block, and spends their days at the landfill.  Dave leads birding tours to the Dry Tortugas.

Clay Henderson wrapped it all up with a rundown of his career in practicing law and working to
Henderson. Photo by Vince Lamb
protect as much of Florida as possible. He reviewed the history of our land buying programs and encouraged us to take advantage of this election year to let our law makers know we expect them to do right by Amendment 1. People are livid that it is being used to cover general revenue expenses and not for environmental protection as we intended for it. There was $215 M for Everglades’ restoration; $50 M for springs restoration; and $5.1 M for Lake Apopka restoration earmarked, out of $752.5 M


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