A quest to save monarch butterflies by increasing native milkweed populations led by FNPS member and St. Mark's Refuge Ranger, Scott Davis
St. Marks Refuge Ranger, and FNPS member, Scott Davis has developed a long term plan to support the monarch butterfly in the Big Bend of Florida by sourcing local ecotypes of milkweed species to provide an ongoing viable seed source for the refuge, as well as distributing as many seedlings as possible to the conservation lands. More milkweeds = more monarchs!
The Monarch-milkweed imitative at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge is a program that sprang up in response to the federal initiative to “Save the Monarch!” http://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/.
Monarchs are incredible creatures for many reasons. They make the longest migration of any species (3,000+ miles!) from as far as southern Canada to southern Mexico. They are important pollinator species and their decline is indicative of a problem spanning their entire range. Some estimates range from 90-99% decline since 1990. In order to bring back healthy numbers of monarchs, we need to increase numbers of their host plants, the milkweeds. Female monarchs only lay eggs on milkweeds as it is the only source of food for caterpillars.
As of the time of this writing, in November 2016, the Monarch migration was in full swing, and 2 monarchs with white stickers were spotted! This is significant because it shows that they were tagged by other citizen scientists at another location. One of the white tagged monarchs was October 5th in Rosetta McClain Gardens--Toronto, CANADA!!! This translates into flying 977 miles in just 32 days! Monarchs are incredible.
Scott will discuss the progress of the initiative in conserving and mapping native milkweed populations in 2016, the data from the 2016 fall migration, and the goals for the initiative in 2017.Updates to the project may be found on their Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/StMarksMilkweeds/?fref=ts
Scott Davis is a busy biologist, with Ethnobotany among his passions. He is a state board member for the Florida Native Plant Society, and president-elect for the Magnolia (Tallahassee) Chapter. In addition to his day job as ranger at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, he serves as Coordinator for the new Milkweed-Monarch Conservation Initiative, VP for Friends of Wakulla Springs, and as a committee member for the FWC Great Florida Birding Trail and Black Bear Stakeholders. He also owns a native plant nursery and is an officer of a non-profit agency on urban forest conservation.
Our meetings are held at 7 pm at the Hillsborough County Extension Office 5339 County Road 579, Seffner, FL 33583 As usual, there will be light refreshments,and a native plant auction following the presentation.
Our January field trip will be to Alderman Ford County Park. This park provides a mix of natural communities including the floodplain of the Alafia River, seepage slopes, and sandhill.
We plan to meet in the main parking lot and then explore on foot. We will visit the floodplain via a boardwalk which will provide good views and easy walking. We will then cross the river and walk downstream through the upper part of the floodplain and return to the parking lot on the other side of the river. This is all multi-use trail and paved.
Depending on weather, we may take a side excursion up a primitive trail that goes up through the seep slope into the sandhill. Expect 1.5 to 2 miles of walking. The seep slope can be wet.
Difficulty – easy if you stay on the boardwalk and multi-use trail, moderate if you go up through the seep slope.
There are three bathrooms and three water fountains along the paved trail.
Florida Native Garden Maintenance
Plant City Community and Teaching Gardens, 2001 E Cherry St, Plant City, FL 33563
The Suncoast Native Plant Society has adopted two areas in the Plant City Commons Teaching Garden. THe goal of SNPS to to make this garden a showcase for Native Plants in Hillsborough County.
The Native Plant Garden and adjacent area need some weeding and invasive plant removal. We also need to finish the pathway adjacent to the natural wetlands.
Members and non-members are welcome. We will be there as early as 8:30 am, but late arrivals are welcome. Plan to spend at least 2-4 hours in the garden. We will have tools, wheelbarrow, and gloves if you do not have any.
Children over the age of 12 are welcomed if accompanied by an adult. All participants will need to sign a waiver of liability.
The restoration of Perico Preserve, a 176-acre property in Manatee County, is a story of transformation. The land has undergone significant changes from its original acquired state of farmland to the beautiful mix of habitats we see today. Featured at this site are the coastal wetlands expected in this area as well as carefully planned scrub hills and upland areas that were part of the historic coast.
Damon Moore, Environmental Program Manager for Manatee County, will talk about the county’s restoration project that won them a Landscape Award Of Excellence for Restoration from FNPS in 2016. He will describe how they removed non-native plants and restored a rich diversity of native species to wetland and upland habitats at the preserve.
Our meetings are held at 7 pm at the Hillsborough County Extension Office 5339 County Road 579, Seffner, FL 33583 As usual, there will be light refreshments, and a native plant auction following the presentation.
On the Saturday following the presentation, February 18, our fieldtrip will be to Manatee County for a guided walk in Perico Preserve.
In February, SNPS will be treated to a guided walk in one of Mantee County's newest preserves. Perico Preserve’s 176 acres offers a high diversity of wildlife and plant species. Nearly 1.5 miles of winding trails take visitors through forested hammock, uplands scrub, and both fresh and saltwater marshes. Along the way, visitors will find benches, overlooks, bridges, and even swings to allow for relaxing opportunities to connect with nature.
The County’s first site to offer a bird blind, the Preserve provides a unique opportunity for visitors to get close to wildlife without a negative impact on the animal’s behavior.SNPS members will be taken on a guided walk of the preserve to see results of the restoration first hand, and learn about the on-going projects to protect the animals and plants of this critical habitat.
Note, there are no bathrooms at the Preserve. The nearest public bathrooms are located on the Palma Sola Bay Causeway, east of the preserve. GPS points of restroom: 27.496460,-82.656394.
Easy to moderate, not paved, may be sandy in spots. You can adjust the length of the hike to be shorter or longer. As always, come prepared with water, sunscreen, insect repellent, comfortable shoes, and a hat.