Environment

Welcome to the woods, fall wildflowers of the Withlacoochee State Forest

Article and Photography by ALICE MARY HERDEN

September 23 was the first official day of fall, but here in Florida, fall doesn’t feel like fall until late October. Cool-weather, pleasant breezes that whisper throughout the forest and the colors of fall begin to appear, fade and reappear during the next couple of months.

Vince Morris, Resource Administrator, and Colleen Werner, Biologist II from the Florida Forest Service, took me on a long-awaited trip to their favorite spots to see the fall colors blooming in the Withlacoochee State Forest.

Wait… A Horseshoe Crab is not a Crab? Things you learn when you volunteer!

On September 13, 2019 the University of Florida/IFAS Extension at Hernando County offered a training program for participation in the Horseshoe Crab Watch Citizen Science Program. Volunteers had the opportunity to learn about the program and especially about horseshoe crabs, which are not crabs. They are closely related to spiders and other arachnids. We all reacted the same way. See what you can learn when you volunteer!

Coastal Cleanup – Save the Date!

Florida Sea Grant and UF/IFAS Extension in Hernando County are teaming up with local businesses, clubs, and county government to host the 2019 International Coastal Cleanup in Hernando County. This International Cleanup began more than 30 years ago when communities rallied together to keep their beaches pristine. Now, thousands of volunteers from around the world can participate in this international cleanup through a location near them. 

Big haul for SCUBAnauts

by LISA MACNEIL
[email protected]

On Saturday, July 20, 2019, the local SCUBAnauts dove the site of the A.H. Richardson Reef to remove tires that served as the foundation for the artificial reef, that began construction in 1977.  Tires as reef material have since been determined to be harmful for marine life.  The SCUBAnauts also retrieved abandoned crab traps, discarded fishing line and rope.  

Additional dives are planned to retrieve more tires, as the carrier boat on this trip reached capacity.

Longleaf Pine Alliance hosts educational program for land managers, private landowners

Article and Photography 
by ALICE MARY HERDEN

The Longleaf Alliance held their Longleaf Academy Program at the Withlacoochee Training Center in Brooksville for staff members from state and federal agencies, forest industries as well as conservation groups, researchers and private landowners.

Longleaf Alliance Technical Assistance & Training Specialist Karen Brown and Vice President of Operations Ad Platt were the instructors of the three-day training program.  

'Growing' solar

By ROCCO MAGLIO

On September 1, 2015, the USDA Agricultural Research Service transferred their 3800 acre research facility in Brooksville to FAMU (Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University). It was reportedly “one of the single largest land transfers to a Historically Black College or University in history from the USDA.”

Metals that just keep on giving

For many years, countries in Europe have been imposing fines on people who refuse to recycle. Sweden, in particular, is so good at recycling that it now imports rubbish from other countries to keep its recycling plants going. Scotland has installed machines that give money back for returning empty bottles and cans, safe in the knowledge that all items collected will be sent for recycling. And England is soon to follow.  

Some countries, however, have no penalties or incentives at all for recycling. 

On Bayou Drive

Hernando County is a great place to fish, with a mixture of fresh brackish water to the wide-open Gulf. Anglers can enjoy casting off at Jenkins Fishing Pier, Linda Pedersen Park and Bayport Park. These areas are also fantastic spots for nature photographers to capture those scenic sunsets and Great Egrets flying over the marshland. 

There is a favorite spot that I like to go to photograph. It’s a quiet little place with a variety of wading birds; pleasant for early morning walkers and bicyclists. This place is on Bayou Drive in Weeki Wachee, FL.