On Saturday, February 25th, 2012, it became clear to me that people from all walks of life in South Florida still do care. Only a few weeks earlier I had called for action for an environmental restoration workday at Broward County’s Deerfield Island Park. The call went viral and 199 volunteers RSVPed. 176 showed up. My appeal was the following.
“This is something that I rarely do but I am requesting it now, I need your help. Saturday, February 25th at 10 am, I am gathering everyone we can muster at the dock that services Deerfield Island Park in Deerfield Beach. I am responding to a plea from my longtime friend Pat Howell on a project that is dear to both of our hearts. The gopher tortoise habitat on the island is facing a de-listing as a critical wildlife habitat by the Fish & Wildlife Commission because invasive exotic plants are choking out the area. I am trying to mobilize an army to eliminate the invasives and prevent the critical wildlife de-listing. Because it is a large task and we only have one day, I need as many volunteers as humanly possible.
Deerfield Island Park is a Broward County Park. Because of budget issues and the park’s isolated location, Broward County has not had the funds or staff to tackle this problem. My friend Pat at Broward County Parks is in charge of protecting all of Broward’s flora and fauna in the parks. She is one of the finest and most dedicated human beings I have ever known. I need to help her. Fish & Wildlife is coming in early March to pull the plug. This is our chance to avert it.
Deerfield Island Park is only accessible by boat. Pat has arranged for a boat to transfer us and equipment to do the job on the island. This is one of the last eastern habitats for the endangered gopher tortoises near the Intracoastal. The entire Dragonfly Expeditions staff and family members have committed to the effort. Now, we are calling on our guides, clients, friends and supporters to join in. Come as long as you are able and wear clothes and shoes that can get dirty and work gloves if you have them. I will be grateful for any help that you can give. Please RSVP so that I can have the necessary resources on hand.
Postscript: Twenty years ago, I started my environmental restoration work as a volunteer at Deerfield Island Park. Pat was the Park Manager at the time. She and I did a lot of work, much of it has been very successful but the areas we did not get to have now become a critical problem. Please help if you can.”
The results were astounding: 648 volunteer hours, 100 bags of asparagus fern, oyster plant, wandering jew, inch plant and piles and piles of Brazilian pepper, Surinam cherry, carrotwood, Australian pine and schefflera.
But the greatest result of all was a notice on March 16th, 2012 by Ricardo Zambrano of the Fish and Wildlife Commission that Deerfield Island Park would remain a critical wildlife area, adding “I was glad to see all the work that has taken place removing exotics and planting natives.”
We did it folks!!
The Sun Sentinel featured an article on this event on March 9th, 2012 and can be found here.