Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Volunteers needed to help maintain Hernando's Fickett Hammock

Fickett Hammock covers 148 acres on Centralia Road, just west of Citrus Way.

I like this location — perfect quiet and solitude less than 10 minutes from State Road 50.

I like that the dense shade of the hammock, along with the first reasonably cool day of the season (Wednesday), let me walk the 1-mile trail and barely break a sweat. Imagine that a week ago!

I like that the trail leads past a clearing of shoulder-high palmettos that practically glowed in the sunlight, a giant oak with a small, bonsai-looking palmetto growing from a crook in its trunk, and a shrub called an Eastern wahoo (so Jim King, the county's conservation lands specialist, tells me), with a bright red seed pod that stood out like a brake light on an empty highway.

I like that the hammock is named after someone who deserved it — Steve Fickett, expert birder and co-founder of Hernando Audubon, who died in 2006.

I like that the trail was built last spring partly by volunteer workers — my kind of people, the ones who care about the woods — and that my view was more natural and less cluttered because still another crowd of volunteers had cleared away an invasive plant called Japanese climbing fern and a truck-load of trash last Saturday during National Public Lands Day.

Organized locally for the second year by Becky Brown, volunteer coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, it attracted 180 volunteers in Hernando County, twice as many as last year.

The jobs they did included planting 200 cypress trees at the Silver Lake Recreation Area, cleaning overgrowth from miles of trail in the Richloam Tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest, and pulling down tons of potato vines at the Springs Coast Environmental Education Center on the Weeki Wachee River.

What I don't like is that I missed it. It makes me feel downright guilty, in fact, because the agencies that manage natural lands have always been stretched thin. King, for example is the only land manager assigned to three tracts of county-owned environmentally sensitive land.

They are stretched even thinner now in the era of tight budgets.

The state Division of Forestry headquarters north of Brooksville, which is responsible for keeping up the vast Withlacoochee State Forest, has lost three positions permanently and is unable to fill five more, director Winnie Schreiber said.

And they will be stretched even thinner as revenues continue to drop, she said: "We expect it to get worse next year.''

"We're scrambling, trying to do the most with the least,'' King said. Volunteers are a way to leverage the effort of each paid worker, he said, especially for tasks that can only be done with lots of human labor, like picking up garbage or clearing brush.

That is next up on his schedule, on a work day scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 7, at 8 a.m. — cutting a boundary line through the woods on the Fickett property so a fence can be built.

For those of us who slept in last Saturday, he has planned three more chances to exorcise our guilt — cutting trails, picking up debris or laying tree limbs to prevent erosion — on work days in January, February and March.

C'mon, get out there. Steve would be proud of you.

Volunteers needed to help maintain Hernando's Fickett Hammock 10/01/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 1, 2009 4:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Yankees executive Jessica Steinbrenner seeks restraining order against ex-husband

    Civil

    TAMPA — Jessica Steinbrenner, a top executive with the New York Yankees and a daughter of the team's late owner George Steinbrenner, is seeking a restraining order against her ex-husband.

    New York Yankees excutive Jessica Steinbrenner, with her then-husband Felix Lopez Jr. in this 2008 photo, filed for a restraining order against Lopez in Hillsborough County last week. 
[Times files]
  2. Hurricane evacuations halted for lack of ambulances at VA's Young center

    Veterans

    As many as 30 patients who should have been evacuated from the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center were left behind during Hurricane Irma because the hospital and the county couldn't agree on where they should go.

    Lorraine Johnson-Mitchell, back home in St. Petersburg on Monday, said she watched in disbelief as hospital staff seemed to scramble without a plan to evacuate patients like her from the VA medical center in St. Petersburg before Hurricane Irma. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  3. South Florida poaches debris pickup trucks once slotted for Tampa, officials say

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — A week into the job of picking up an estimated 300,000 cubic yards of Hurricane Irma debris from its streets, Tampa City Hall is finding to its dismay that the challenge is more competitive than expected.

    Yard debris from the winds of Hurricane Irma line many yards along Pinellas Point Drive South, St. Petersburg, 9/22/17.
  4. Wisniewska: I protected our students and USFSP campus

    Columns

    Throughout my tenure in academia, my focus has always been on putting students first.

    The USF St. Petersburg Campus, Thursday, June 19, 2014.
  5. Bucs defensive end Chris Baker (90) is seen during training camp last month at One Buc Place. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]