Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Live and Learn

On July 7, My Florida Backyard hosted the second meeting of the Greenbrook/Brightside Adopt-A-Pond Project. John McGee, Hillsborough County Adopt-A-Pond program coordinator, was on hand to provide us with lots of information and materials to get our project up and running.

We were also fortunate to have on hand John Calvert, Plantation's new property manager, and Danny Church, Plantation's maintenance supervisor. We need the support of the whole community to make this project succeed, and John and Danny understand the positive impacts our planned improvements will have on Plantation as a whole.

John (McGee) began the evening by giving us an overview of stormwater ecology, and then asked us what our goals are as we begin work on our pond. Several of us listed the desire to create new wildlife habitats and improve the existing ones. Danny indicated it would be great if this program could help to stop erosion of the pond banks. We also discussed the possibility of maintaining water quality while using fewer chemical herbicides. John assured us all of these goals were very possible.

He then moved on to explaining the materials he brought to support our efforts. The most important is the giant Adopt-A-Pond Notebook. This book contains just about every kind of information we could need, including forms, program information, pictures and detailed description of plants, and a landscaping guide. Paula will hold onto one copy of this notebook, and Danny will receive another to be used as our group cooperates with the maintenance team to make the project successful.

John also brought copies of the Adopt-A-Pond brochure, stickers, and several reference books, as well as print copies of the Adopt-A-Pond newsletter, On Our Pond.

The group spent some time addressing concerns that while residents may work to establish new plants and habitats in and around the pond, well-meaning maintenance crews could inadverdently spray herbicides that would destroy all the hard work. Danny assured us that he would work with us and his crew to ensure that our pond maintains maximum health levels while protecting the efforts of the Adopt-A-Pond team. Danny explained that one of the main pond issues is controlling the very invasive Hydrilla. John explained some possible alternatives to the current methods, including the possibility of introducing a carefully controlled population of Chinese Grass Carp. We will explore these ideas further as the project progresses.

Finally, the group was ready to make some plans for moving ahead with the project. We agreed to focus our initial efforts on the playground area at the north end of the pond, where we can work to control erosion as well as establish wildlife habitat. John suggested he visit the area and choose the best plants (all native to Florida) to start the project off right, and we agreed. Some of the plants he may help us introduce include:
Our first planting is planned for Wednesday, August 12, from 6:00 - 8:00. John will be there to guide us every step of the way, so no experience in any kind of planting is required. All residents are encouraged to join in! We'll meet at the playground area. Be sure to dress in clothes that can get wet and muddy, and bring a long-handled pointed shovel if you have one.

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.
-Frank Lloyd Wright

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