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									                              “Protecting Florida’s Ancient Scrub”                              Winter 2009

                                                 by Jim Reed, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
                                                                                  from data provided by FWC and FNAI

   R      idge Ranger volunteers it wasn’t always like this. When
          at many of our locations Florida started monitoring the
are very likely to spot an eagle or bald eagle in 1973, there were
                                                                              Inside this issue:
                                                                                   The other day there was an
                                                                              eagle perched at the pond near the
two during their work day.          only 88 active nests found in the         Ridge Ranger office, and I took its
Florida has a larger breeding       entire state.                             picture. The Ridge Rangers are a
population of bald eagles than          The turnaround has been so            success story for Central Florida,
any other state                                       successful that in      but the bald eagle is a success story
outside of Alaska.                                    2007 the U.S. Fish      for the entire country, and so we
                                                                              made the eagle a feature of this
    Bald eagles nest in                               and Wildlife            issue.
tall trees (mostly                                    Service took the             Also inside, we have a troubling
pines) that provide a                                 eagle off the           story about scrub jays, photos of
clear view of                                         endangered              fellow Ridge Rangers at work, the
                                                                              schedule for January thru March
surrounding areas.                                    species list. In
                                                                              2009, the schedule for Ridge
Nests are close to                                    2008 Florida also       Rangers Recognition Day and other
lakes, marshes, rivers                                delisted the bald       items of interest.
and seacoasts that                                    eagle, and adopted
provide food sources. Bald eagle nesting sites, 2007. a new state Bald
The nesting season in                                 Eagle
Florida begins in October. The      Management Plan. Besides the
female will lay between one to      management plan, the eagle is
three eggs, which are incubated protected by the Migratory Bird
for about 35 days before            Treaty Act and the Bald and
hatching. The fledglings are able Golden Eagle Protection Act.
to leave the nest after 12 weeks.       The FWC Bald Eagle
Most adult birds migrate out of     Management Plan (which can be
Central and North Florida after found at
the breeding season, although       contains strict regulations which
eagles in the southernmost part protect eagles and provide buffer
of Florida may stay year-round      areas around bald eagle nesting
    A survey in 2007 found more sites.                                             Bald eagle at Royce Ranch.
                                                                                       Photo by Jim Reed
than 1,100 nests in Florida, but
        Why do we volunteer?                                            Join the team to help protect
                                                    By Geoff Brown,    rare wildlife and plants found
                                  Community Partnerships Coordinator       nowhere else on earth.

   T      he Florida Fish and
          Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) Office of
                                  organizations are facing. We
                                  hope this survey can help us
                                  better mobilize volunteers and
                                                                             Ridge Rangers are a group
                                                                       of dedicated volunteers helping
                                                                       preserve the last remaining
Recreation Services (ORS)         leverage our resources to            fragments of the Lake Wales
                                                                       Ridge. The ridge is a highly
will be launching a               accomplish the FWC mission
                                                                       endangered ecosystem, along the
multi-faceted survey in           and create an even larger            spine of Florida’s peninsula.
December to help FWC better       constituency for fish and            Ridge Rangers are individuals of
work with volunteers. The         wildlife conservation.”              all ages from different
survey targets several groups,        “Our conservation partners       backgrounds. The main
                                                                       requirements to become a
including FWC senior              will benefit from the results of     volunteer are a smile and the
leadership, administrators,       this survey as well”, she            desire to make a difference!
and current and potential         added.
volunteer project coordinators.       ORS has contracted Dr.                This unique volunteer
    Current volunteers will       Susan Jacobson of University         program is managed by the
                                                                       Florida Fish and Wildlife
also receive a questionnaire so   of Florida’s Department of           Conservation Commission
that they can offer feedback      Wildlife Ecology and                 (FWC) with cooperation from
about why they volunteer,         Conservation to develop the          more than 10 public and private
what they like about their        survey.                              agencies.
experience on FWC volunteer           So what motivates you? At
                                                                            Workdays are throughout
projects, and what could be       this time the questionnaire          the year, mainly on Saturdays, on
improved.                         and the implementation               protected lands stretching from
    “Our volunteers benefit       strategy are still being             near Orlando to Lake Placid.
FWC with their diverse skills     formulated. Ridge Ranger             Monitoring endangered species,
and experience,” said Anne        volunteers will be randomly          searching for rare plants,
                                                                       maintaining trails and collecting
Glick, ORS Wildlife Viewing       selected to participate. We          trash are just some of the many
Section Leader. “We are           look forward to your feedback        ways Ridge Rangers have an
experiencing the same budget      about your volunteer                 impact every day!
challenges that all               experiences.
                                                                       GET INVOLVED…
   Whatever happened to . . .
               Follow-up on past Ridge Ranger
                                                                       •Call: 863-699-3742 or e-mail:
                stories, events and activities               
Lake Blue Scrub (Update from Summer,
2008) Lake Blue Scrub is being prepared                                •Mail: The registration form
for scrub lupine planting in an effort to                              found in this newsletter.
create a protected population of this rare
plant. A portion of Lake Blue Scrub has                                •Visit: The Ridge Ranger office
been cleared and burned, and Ridge                                     in Lake Placid at the FWC office
                                                                       at 1630 Royce Ranch Ave.
Rangers have had two workdays to remove
                                              Controlled burn at
nonnative and invasive vegetation. A          Lake Blue Scrub.
planting date will be scheduled soon.          Photo by Brad Kolhoff


                                    By Tom Palmer, Ridge Ranger volunteer

   S    crub lupine (Lupinus
        aridorum) is one of the
most colorful and showy plants of
                                  construction of a new rail freight
                                  terminal. At the moment the
                                  only fully protected and managed
                                                                               For more information call Jim
                                                                                   Reed at 863-699-3742!
                                                                             Hot Opportunity: Bat Research
Florida’s scrub. Also known as    population survives at a 55-acre
                                                                                 Early in 2009, a group from the
pink lupine (for the color of its federal preserve in central Polk
                                                                             Florida Bat Conservancy will survey
flowers) or McFarlin’s lupine (in County near Lake McLeod in
                                                                             bats in the Lake Wales Ridge area of
honor of Winter Haven botanist    Eagle Lake.
                                                                             Polk County. This unusual opportunity
                                      If all goes well, scrub lupine
                                                                             will include using aural equipment to
                                  will be protected at two other
                                                                             locate bats in specific regions and
                                  sites. One is Lake Blue Scrub
                                                                             catalogue the number of animals.
                                  near Auburndale, a 78-acre site            Interested Ridge Rangers may be able
                                  managed by the Florida Fish and            to participate.
                                  Wildlife Conservation                      Hot Opportunity: Fish Inventory
                                  Commission (FWC). The other is                 In March, 2009, a group of Ridge
                                  Tibet-Butler Preserve, a 440-acre          Ranger volunteers will survey for fish
                                  site near Orlando managed by               species in the waters at Royce Ranch.
                                  the South Florida Water                    This will require preplanning and
                                  Management District.                       preparation, so volunteers are needed
                                      The reintroduction of the              now to set up the program and prepare
                                  lupine on FWC’s Lake Blue scrub            the survey equipment, as well as
                                  is being accomplished by the U.S.          conduct the surveys on the work day.
                                  Fish and Wildlife Service, in
                                  cooperation with Bok Tower
                                  Gardens. The Bok Tower                    apparently the first person to
                                  Gardens, affiliated with the              publish comments suggesting it was
                                  Center for Plant Conservation in          a separate species. However, he
Scrub lupine. Photo by Tom Palmer St. Louis, is raising lupine and          didn’t formally describe it as a new
                                  other rare plants in their                species and that task fell to Jon
James Brigham McFarlin), scrub greenhouse. Lupine is grown                  Beckner, another Florida botanist,
lupine is an anomaly among the using seeds collected from known             who published a description in 1982.
rare plants in the network of     wild populations. The further
scrub preserves in Central        protection of scrub lupine in the
Florida. It blooms in the spring Winter Haven area is a fitting
                                                                                Editor’s notes:
and is the only upright pink-     tribute to James Brigham
                                                                                Ridge Ranger Tom Palmer is the
flowered lupine in Florida.       McFarlin (1901-1969), who in the
                                                                            environmental reporter for the
    Scrub lupine’s protection is  early 1930s collected specimens,
                                                                            Lakeland Ledger.
tenuous. It survives in only a    documented the existence of this
                                                                                Ridge Rangers have had
few spots on the Winter Haven     plant in several locations in Polk
                                                                            workdays scheduled at Bok Tower,
and Mt. Dora ridges in Polk and County and may have been the
                                                                            Lake McLeod and Lake Blue scrub.
Orange counties. There is a       first person to recognize its
                                                                            We are a link in the chain of
recently-discovered population    uniqueness. Although scrub
                                                                            organizations working to
on the south of side of Winter    lupine had been collected as
                                                                            reestablish this rare species.
Haven in an area planned for the early as 1900, McFarlin was

                                                               by Reed Bowman,
                         Associate Research Biologist, Archbold Biological Station      Here are some of your
                                                                                         neighbors who have joined
                                                                                Ridge Rangers since September 1:
    T     he scrub-jay is a special
          creature, endemic to this
area and an icon for Florida scrub
                                         That’s a 56 percent mortality rate in
                                         only three months. Overall, the entire • Melanie Bond, Wauchula
                                         Archbold population declined by 25 • Dayle and Diedrich Dierks, Lake
land. But now it may be in trouble.      percent as many of our oldest             Wales
When we think of the things that kill breeders disappeared as well.             • Carol Edeker, Winter Haven
Florida scrub-jays, predation is one         We do not know if these patterns • Amber Hadden, Orlando
of the leading causes. Hawks,            are wide-spread. It seems to be        • George Irwin, Winter Haven
snakes, foxes, cats and cars are just a happening in some populations but       • Linda Jennings, Sebring
few of the things that come to mind, not in others, a pattern typical of        • Tiffany K. Johnson, Lakeland
but we may not think of the smaller disease. Many small, isolated jay           • Dennis E. Larson, Sebring
creatures such as viruses that also kill populations may not be resilient       • Randy Ludwig, Lake Placid
birds.                                                  enough to withstand     • Ray E. Mayfield, Fort Meade
     Disease plays                                      that level of loss
                                                                                • Dori McPherson, Winter Haven
a large role in                                         without a great
                                                                                • Doris Melvin, Auburndale
regulating animal                                       increase in their risk
populations. It                                         of extinction. In the   • Taylor Michener, Lakeland
probably occurs                                         future, if Florida’s    • Henry Rideout, Lakeland
at low levels all                                       climate becomes         • Todd Rossow, Lakeland
the time, but also                                      increasingly warm       • Ann E. Stansel, Bartow
occurs                                                  and wet, mosquitoes     • Rick B. and Maryanne Stevens,
episodically as                                         will thrive and disease    Lakeland
large-scale                                             could become an         • Sunshine Swearingen, Winter Haven
epidemics. During           Scrub-jay. FWC photo      increasing threat to the • Tim Tillman, Winter Haven
epidemics losses can                                  viability of scrub-jays. • Melissa Vogelsang, Sanford
account for half a population or             Do any solutions to this threat    • Amy Williams, Sebring
more. The patterns of mortality          exist? We know an increasing           • Fion and Paul Wong, Lake Placid
resulting from epidemics are distinct.    amount about the genetics of Florida
    At Archbold Biological Station,       scrub-jays, and we have the          Welcome, everyone. We’ll see you at one
we have seen four scrub-jay               opportunity to search for the very   of the next workdays!
epidemics over the last 38 years.         genes that encode information about
Deaths occur in summer and fall and       immune responses to diseases. Are
the very young and old die in the         some birds more resistant? Could     Feb. 28, 2009 is the date
greatest numbers. We do not know          some small populations, where        For Ridge Ranger Recognition
the specific cause of this mortality,     genetic diversity has been lost to        On Saturdays, Ridge Ranger
but it often occurs when various          habitat fragmentation and isolation,  volunteers are out in force, helping make
encephalitis viruses such as Eastern      be more vulnerable to disease?        the Lake Wales Ridge a better place.
equine encephalitis (including West       Answers to these questions, although Once a year, we get together without
Nile virus) appear to be common in        potentially years away, can
                                                                                worrying about endangered species or
the environment.                          measurably improve our ability to
                                                                                building fences. That’s on the Ridge
    This year started out as a pretty     conserve jays, and this is where our
                                                                                Ranger Recognition Day.
good one for the jays. The jays           research is heading.
                                                                                          Feb. 28, 2009 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. is
produced about 1.45 independent
                                               Editor’s note: Ridge Ranger           the time for the next Ridge Ranger
young per group, well above the
                                          volunteers participate in the Jay          Recognition. It will be at Circle B Bar
long-term average. Then, beginning
                                          Watch program, an ongoing effort to        Reserve in Polk County and will include a
in July, we started to see
                                          keep track of the scrub-jays that are      cookout. We will have a chance for an
extraordinarily high rates of mortality
                                          living in portions of the Lake Wales       inside look at this remarkable new facility,
and by October only 53 of the 121
                                          Ridge.                                     as well as recognize the hard work of the
independent young were still alive.
                                                                                     Ridge Rangers over the past year.
                   To register for projects, complete the enclosed registration form or contact Jim Reed at:
                   Telephone:                     FAX:                       mail:
                   Telephone (863) 699-3742 / FAX (863) 699-3741 / E-mail
                         Or mail to: Ridge Rangers, 1630 Royce Ranch Ave., Lake Placid, FL 33852

Date           Time Location                                           Activity / Details
Jan. 10, 2009 9 a.m. Saddle Blanket Lakes Preserve, northwest of       Stewardship. Specific activities to be announced
                     Avon Park                                         later.
Jan. 17, 2009 9 a.m. Archbold Biological Station, south of Lake        Fenceline clearing.
                     Placid off SR 70
Jan. 24, 2009 9 a.m. Walk-in-the-Water tract of Lake Wales Ridge       Trail maintenance.
                     State Forest, located east of Frostproof
Jan. 31, 2009 9 a.m. FWC Lake Blue Scrub, in Auburndale                Air potato removal.

Feb. 7, 2009   9 a.m. Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales                  Stewardship. Specific activities to be announced
Feb.14, 2009 9 a.m. Mackay Gardens and Lakeside Preserve, in the       Trail and garden maintenance.
                    town of Lake Alfred
Feb.21, 2009 9 a.m. FWC Mountain Lake Cutoff Scrub, in Lake            Area cleanup.
                    Wales, near intersection of US 27 and SR 17

Feb. 28, 2009 9 a.m. Circle B Bar Reserve, located between Bartow      Recognition Day. Plans: Cookout, tour of
                     and Lakeland on SR 540                            Circle B Bar Reserve and recognition of the
                                                                       many hours of volunteer time provided by

March 7,       9 a.m. Tiger Creek Preserve, near Babson Park           Stewardship. Specific activities to be announced
2009                                                                   later.
March 14,      9 a.m. FWC Royce Ranch, outside the town of Lake        Inventory of fish species in Royce Ranch waters.
2009                  Placid near Lake Istokpoga                       Requires participant preplanning. Citizen-
                                                                       science project for Ridge Rangers.
March 21,      9 a.m. FWC Carter Creek property, east of Sebring off Area cleanup.
2009                  Arbuckle Creek Road
March 28,      9 a.m. FWC Royce Ranch, outside the town of Lake        Build wood duck boxes.
2009                  Placid near Lake Istokpoga

Additional schedule items:
•   Every Tuesday morning: Greenhouse activities take place at Royce Ranch. All Ridge Rangers invited—call
    before coming for the first time.
•   Individual Schedule: Invertebrate study activities. Watch for information on a training session and greater program
•   New Citizen-Science Project: Fish species inventory at Royce Ranch - in the planning stages.
•   In-Work: The Florida Bat Conservatory will be doing a survey in Polk County and may be able to include Ridge
    Rangers in the survey work.
•   Special Event—Recognition Day Outing: Save Feb 28 for Recognition Day. Planned as an outing to Circle B Bar
    in Polk County. More details as the date approaches!
Ridge Rangers Volunteer Program
1630 Royce Ranch Ave.
Lake Placid, FL 33852

                                                                                                                    All photos by Jim Reed
                                                                              Ridge Rangers take a break during a
                                                                              workday at Allen David Broussard
                                                                              Catfish Creek State Preserve to
                                         Al Honican clearing a trail at       inspect a monument to Allen David
                                              MacKay Gardens                  Broussard

 Part of the crew working at Bok Tower
                                                          Ridge Rangers at Lake Louisa State Park

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