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Restoring native biodiversity must be a priority

Re: Grant will help park fight invasive plants | May 23 editorial

Restoring native flora is a priority

This editorial says invasive nonnative plants are an enormous problem in Pinellas and they threaten many of the county's preserves. I know this firsthand as a county volunteer who works in the Ozona Preserve.

Up until the last couple of years, I had worked mostly by myself in the Ozona Preserve day after day, week after week, and month after month for years trying to rid the preserve of nonnative invasive pest vegetation. I have a good understanding of how difficult but important it is that we restore the native biodiversity.

Like in Dunedin's Hammock Park, the 2004 hurricane season felled many trees in our county preserves and the fast-growing invasive plants thrived. I had made real progress in the Ozona Preserve removing the nonnative invasive vegetation starting in 2000 and up until 2004. But the big winds of 2004 dispersed the seeds of the nonnatives such as Brazilian pepper, and the preserve quickly was overrun. I alerted the county's Environmental Lands Division, but with a very small maintenance crew, they could not do much.

The Lands Division hired Southeastern Chemtreat company to herbicide the nonnative plants in 2006 and 2007. Southeastern Chemtreat works in all parts of the state. The supervisor for the job stated he had never seen such a high concentration of exotics in one area.

In January 2006 the county allowed me to restart the Ozona Preserve volunteer program. The original Ozona volunteer program was founded in 1997 to take care of a small, passive park in a nonsensitive area of the preserve, but the volunteers could not work inside the preserve. I received permission from the county in 2000 as a volunteer to work inside the preserve. Along with the treatments and many volunteer hours, I'm happy to state that as of now, most of the nonnative vegetation in the Ozona Preserve has been removed.

Restoring the native biodiversity in our county preserves is a daunting task in these times of budget cutbacks, but delaying only makes the challenge more difficult. Our county government must find a more effective and efficient way to restore these precious lands.

I met last year with Paul Cozzie, the county's bureau director of Culture, Education and Leisure, to ask if his much larger park maintenance crew would work with the Environmental Lands Division to help in the removal of the nonnative species in preserves. A partnership was created between the two departments and this will help to provide some sound stewardship for our county preserves.

Along with our preserves and parks, the Pinellas Trail and the roadways of Pinellas are littered with invasive nonnative plants. Also, there are many homes and businesses that have invasive nonnatives growing on their properties. I urge my fellow county residents to try and rid your properties of these pests. I'm not talking about exotic plants such as crotons, but invasive species such as Brazilian pepper. For information about the plants on your property, contact the Pinellas County Extension Service, lawn and garden section, 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo, 582-2110.

I have put much thought into how to better care for our county preserves. I will be meeting with most of our county commissioners and administrators in the coming weeks with suggestions.

Reggie Hall, Ozona

Re: Bollea tapes anger father May 27 story

Mr. Graziano,

lay off Bolleas!

Ed Graziano, where were you when your son John and Nick Bollea were best friends and hanging out before the car crash? If the Bolleas are such terrible people, why would you ever let your son be such good friends with this family?

I don't know the Bollea family, other than Hulk Hogan's wrestling fame, but I try to think what I would want my family to do if I and my best friend were ever in an auto accident. The first thing, hopefully, that my family would do would be to make sure that my best friend and his family were dealing with it in the best way possible, not checking the status of their bank account.

I would hope that if ever there was anything to happen between such good friends, both families would stay together and support one another.

Mr. Graziano, I'm sure the Bolleas realize that they owe your family something for the injuries to your son, but for you to trash their family just doesn't make sense to me. Is this the way you trashed your wife's name during your ongoing divorce before the crash? Now you are putting her up for the Mother of the Year award. I'm not quite sure how you turn on and off your feelings about other people the way you do.

I guess it is easy to say that before the crash you wanted your son around the Bolleas because of their money. Now you want nothing to do with that "terrible" family except for their money.

I guess before the crash your wife was a terrible mother and wife and you wanted nothing to do with her, and now you talk her up as wonderful. Is that because you're afraid she might get all the "terrible" Bolleas' money?

Just my two cents worth!

Chris Wags, Dunedin

Re: Bollea tapes anger father May 27 story

Blame is shared in Bollea crash

In our society today, people are given choices in everything they do. People can choose to get married and have children, or they can choose to be single and career-oriented. Regardless of the choices people make, they must be held responsible for their decisions, regardless of what they are.

Terry Bollea, alias Hulk Hogan, and his wife Linda allowed their son Nick to have older friends who were of legal drinking age. As the son of a famous wrestler, Nick Bollea, was born to a life of privilege to begin with and followed in the footsteps of other celebrity children who think nothing of pushing the limits of the law.

The responsibility also lies with John Graziano for encouraging Nick's underage drinking, as well as with Nick Bollea for not encouraging John to wear his seat belt. After all, he was the driver.

The responsibility does not end there, however, as the jail is also at fault for putting Nick in its medical facility — due to his age, they claim — which gives him special treatment.

The bottom line is that everyone was at fault in some way, although the major part of the blame falls on Nick Bollea for causing a serious accident. If he wanted to race, he should have done so on a race track, not a city street! The only time Nick looked remorseful was when he was being sentenced to eight months in jail. At least Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Philip Federico enforced the law, although he gave Nick a light sentence, probably due to his father's celebrity status.

Hopefully, Nick will learn his lesson, think before he acts in the future, and try to be a good role model for other kids his age.

Eileen A. Nece, Clearwater

Re: Blaring sirens are a nuisance | May 15 letter

To some, sirens' sound is heavenly

Sirens may be a nuisance to you, but those blaring sirens are heavenly music to those who need emergency help. Each time I hear a siren, I say a small prayer of thanksgiving that help is on the way.

Perhaps, letter writer, you chose to move to the wrong location. If you lived in a nice, quiet rural area, you'd probably complain about the inconvenience of country living. As for me, I have lived here more than 55 years and wouldn't trade it for any place else on earth!

Jane W. Martin, Palm Harbor

Salvation Army says thank you

We at the Salvation Army would like to express our deep thanks and appreciation to the citizens of Clearwater and upper Pinellas County for their strong support of the recent National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive. In a difficult economic time for our country and community, the Salvation Army received nearly 90,000 pounds of food contributed by our citizens — a remarkable increase over last year's donations.

We are also deeply appreciative of the great collaborative work of the employees of the U.S. Postal Service and the many volunteers who helped the Salvation Army and the U.S. Post Office gather, sort and ready the food for distribution to needy citizens within our community.

The mission and ministry of the Salvation Army have been ongoing in this community for 82 years and continues because of the generous help given to us by the wonderful citizens of this community. Thank you again. May God bless you.

Lt. Col. Tom Jones, community relations officer, Salvation Army, Clearwater

>>your voice counts

You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our Web site at, or by faxing it to (727) 445-4119, or by mailing it to Letters, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. You must include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

. your voice counts

You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our Web site at, or by faxing it to (727) 445-4119, or by mailing it to Letters, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. You must include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

Restoring native biodiversity must be a priority 05/29/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 2, 2008 4:34pm]
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