Archive for the ‘nature park’ Category

The 40-acre park Natural Habitat Park at SPC’s Seminole Campus will serve as one of two public landscape locations for the Florida Native Plant Society Pinellas Chapter’s eighth annual Tour of Native Landscapes on Saturday, Sept. 27.

The self-guided tour, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., will involve a total of six sites throughout Pinellas County. Participants are given maps and information about each site and they can visit them on their own based on their schedule during the day.

Candace “Candy” Arnold, President of the Pinellas Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, said that restorative efforts were part of the reason why the organization selected SPC’s Natural Habitat Park as one of the locations for the tour.

“One of the reasons is that our mission is the restoration of native plants and native plant communities,” Arnold said. “The habitat is just absolutely gorgeous.”

In 2010, the Natural Habitat Park opened after undergoing a restoration, removing exotic and non-native vegetation to better highlight the natural plant life.

“We thought this would be a great opportunity for our members to see what great restoration can look like,” she said. “If you see some of the pictures from before when they were removing some of the exotic plants, it was thick with exotics. Now it’s filled with beautiful native vegetation.”

Maura Scanlon, Assistant Professor of Biology in Environmental Science Technology at the Seminole Campus, said the habitat also serves as green space for relaxing and as an outdoor classroom for field studies.

“It is ideal as it highlights not only the beauty of native plants and animals, but also how impacted urban land can become ecologically functional again through wetland restoration,” Scanlon said.

While the habitat has not been featured on the landscape tour in prior years, members of the Florida Native Plant Society have served as speakers for students in the Associate in Science Environmental Technology program and Seminole Environmental Club at the Seminole Campus.

The Natural Habitat Park is teeming with life – including more than 250 species of birds, dragonflies, reptiles and native plants. The park features a 200-yard-long boardwalk with 12 viewing stations, a 50-seat teaching pavilion, a floating dock and a butterfly and sculpture garden.

Students from the SPC Seminole Environmental Club will provide assistance to visitors and answer questions during the tour.

“Having the park be a stop on the tour provides an opportunity for the public to learn more about SPC, our programs, and this great resource,” Scanlon said.

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Earth Day volunteers work to clean up Habitat Park at the Seminole Campus.

Volunteers remove Brazilian pepper trees on the Tarpon Springs campus.

Various SPC campuses recognized Earth Day this month with events ranging from cleanups to a tree planting.

The Tarpon Springs Campus celebrated Earth Day on Saturday, April 20. About 30 students participated. Part of the group picked up trash in a natural Sandhill Crane site on the campus and along U.S. 19.

Another group from Tarpon Springs cut down Brazilian pepper trees on campus. The trees are an invasive, exotic species detrimental to Florida’s ecosystems. The Earth Day celebration was led by Assistant Professor Kelli Stickrath. Pizza lunch was provided by the campus’ Student Government Association.

At the Seminole Campus, a tree planting ceremony was held on Monday, April 22. A group also gathered on April 20 for a Natural Habitat Park cleanup.

Earlier in the month, SPC Downtown held an Earth Day seminar to teach people about recycling. Those who pledged not to waste the Earth’s resources, received a SPC Downtown aluminum bottle.

The Clearwater and St. Petersburg/Gibbs campuses held quad events this week. Clearwater was host to Dr. R.E. Cycler. With initials that stand for “Robotic Environmentalist,” the robot greeted people and crushed and recycled cans. It was the first time the robot, sponsored by the Engineering and Science and Adventure clubs, was on display in the Tampa Bay area.

See more photos on the college’s Facebook page.

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SPC officials announced June 26 that they have received two $20,000 matching grants from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, TBNweekly.com reported. That will generate a total of $80,000 for wetlands restoration of about 60 acres north of the Seminole school campus. Jim Waechter, director of facilities services at SPC, said upgrades to the school’s Natural Habitat Park would be done in two phases beginning next fall and into the winter, according to the article. Plans call for replanting of natural species consisting of trees, understory and ground cover.

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In a small corner of Seminole, in the middle of Florida’s most heavily developed county, a tract of nearly-forgotten land plays host to a wide variety of Florida plants and animals.

 The land, only about 40 acres in all, is owned by the college. It is the undeveloped half of a tract that the college acquired in 1969; the other half is home to the Seminole Campus.

 For years, the college has had ambitions to turn the land into a nature park, where students could observe the environment first-hand, and where Seminole residents could enjoy nature. Those ambitions became reality this year, when non-native plants (28 species in all) were removed from the site and construction began on a boardwalk, a 50-seat teaching pavilion and a floating dock (for use in water sampling) on the largest pond on the property.

 The nature park opens Tuesday. College officials knew there was plenty of wildlife on the site, which includes several ponds and wetlands as well as all sorts of plant life. But few people realized just how many species lived together in such close proximity on that small, suburban area.

 “We knew that site was a true asset to both the college and the community,” said Jim Olliver, Seminole’s provost. “But I don’t think anyone really knew just how alive that 40 acres was.”

 One person who was not surprised was Seminole resident Judy Fisher, an environmentalist who has spent many hours at the site, identifying plant and animal species of all types. Fisher’s research found rabbits, otters, opossums, raccoons, armadillos, coyotes and feral pigs; nearly 200 bird species; 24 species of dragonflies; 24 species of frogs, turtles, snakes and alligators; and seven species of butterflies.

 Common plants include slash pines, wax myrtle shrubs and sweetgum trees. Some others include sand live oak trees, red bay trees, grape vines and giant leather ferns.

 The recently completed boardwalk, nearly 200 yards long, offers a number of stations, which give visitors the opportunity to observe the site’s plants and animals. On one recent visit, a curious otter bounded up the boardwalk’s entryway and stopped to observe a human visitor before running off to a nearby pond. 

 The park and pavilion will support various SPC curricula (mostly in the sciences and especially for the Environmental Science Technology, and Parks and Leisure Services programs), and will offer recreation opportunities for the community. The Natural Habitat and Environmental Center will be open Monday through Friday from dawn to dusk; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

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St. Petersburg College replaces invasives with native plants at Seminole campus

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