Thursday, July 25, 2013

Volunteers Trim National Trails

Everglades National Park has 82 miles of surfaced roads, 156 miles of trails, and 7 miles of interpretive trails. Volunteers are an immense help to the park for the up keep and maintenance of these facilities for public enjoyment.  On June 1, 2013, Everglades National Park hosted an event in recognition of National Trails Day. 

National Trails Day encourages all Americans to get outside to experience, appreciate, and celebrate the natural places where we can find spectacular scenery, peace of mind, and recreation. One of the most spectacular views of Everglades National Park’s scenery is Pahayokee.  For National Trails Day, six volunteers trimmed branches and palm fronds, clearing the boardwalk and the scenic overlook.  

Visitors can now enjoy the expansive, inspiring view of the ‘everglades; river of grass’ unobstructed by vegetation and see what many consider South Florida’s Serengeti.  Visitors are also able to walk the trail and not be brushed upon by a poison ivy vine as it tries to extend itself to capture sunlight just as a friend extends his hand for a handshake.

Pahayokee is only 0.16 miles long, that leaves 6.84 miles of interpretive trails and 156 miles of regular trails left to be maintained.  Join us next season for National Public Lands Day, the last Saturday in September, or next year for National Trails Day 2014, the first Saturday in June.

Directions to Pahayokee Trail: 13 miles (21 km) from the main park entrance/ Ernest Coe Visitor Center.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Overcome by "Syn" & Volunteers

If National Parks are meant to “conserve the scenery . . . and the wild life therein and . . . leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations,” why do we trample into its boundaries and pull out bags full of plants?  We are committing a ‘syn’ by  removing syngonium, an exotic and invasive plant that threatens the wild life in which we are trying to protect.

In acknowledgement of International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB), Everglades National Park hosted a volunteer event at Shark Valley on Sunday, May 19, 2013. IDB aims to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. Syngonium grows rapidly and competes with native vegetation for sunlight, impacting native growth.

During this active awareness event, six volunteers hand pulled syngonium from the Otter Cave trail. The volunteers ranged from 72 years old to college students. The college students are part of Miami Dade College, Hialeah Campus’ Youth for Environmental Sustainability (Y.E.S.) Club. The main goal is to bring students together and take part in the environment to maintain a sustainable earth. Members of Y.E.S. Club have volunteered frequently, as individuals and as a group.
At the end of the day, the 6 volunteers gathered enough syngonium to completely fill seven 33 gallon trash bags, and a few were bursting at the seams! The season for removing it is October to May.  Weather conditions and mosquito populations during summer months cause too many issues and lack of comfort in the field. This was our last event of the season.

If you are interested in removing syngonium next fall, or other exotic plants, sign up for an event or contact us with your availability. Groups and individuals are welcome!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hurricanes, Mosquitos, and an Artist, Oh My!

July is the onslaught of mosquitos and hurricanes, yet inspiration can be found among such annoying and destructive entities by artists. Our life cannot be separated from our surrounding,” shares Harumi Abe, the July Artist-in-Residence. “Each one of us has a profound relationship with the natural world. Mother Nature can be gentle or comforting, but sometimes destructive.”

Japanese native, Harumi Abe, relocated herself to Miami at age 19 to pursue her dream of studying art.  She now makes her art in a homemade studio in her backyard in Hollywood, FL.

Ms. Abe’s interests in art are in the personal and the emotional. Ms. Abe expresses, “The main issues of my work are not formally convoluted but rather simple observations and interpretations of life.” The idea of home has been her particular interest, since she is living away from home in Japan. “Home is where we experience many of our most personal and intimate moments,” explains Ms. Abe, “and it is where our memories reside long after we have moved on.”

Many of Ms. Abe’s works embody some of her personal journeys to find home. “We build houses hoping to create something new but mostly recreate the familiar places that comfort us. Every corner that I explore partly becomes Japan, my homeland.”

To read Harumi Abe’s entire biography, please visit our website at

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Armed Forces Day at Everglades

Jose Bolanos
 Everglades National park requested the assistance of volunteers to provide a helping hand on May 18, Armed Forces Day. For the third year in a row, the event has been held at the Nike Missile Site.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the park’s goal is to conserve and maintain the site, but in its historical context.

Lucia Lacayo

Historically, the soil berms were void of any vegetation and the fence line cleared of any shrubs or brush. After it’s decommissioning in 1979, there has been almost 30 years of minimal maintenance, mostly dealing with the preservation of the structures, not the landscape.


Lucia's mother
 In 2009, the park started giving tours of the site and realized they needed the help of volunteers to return the site to its historic landscape. With events like Armed Forces Day, volunteers have helped remove brush from the berms and fence line. This time, with much of the brush having been cut down already, three volunteers assisted staff with removing a pile of brush to be turned into mulch elsewhere.

The Crew
 Interestingly, this year two military personnel participated in the event. Former Marine Corporal and now Senior Airmen, Jose Bolanos, of the Air Force Reserves and Tech Sergeant Air Force Reservist Lucia Lacayo. Bolanos has served two tours in Iraq while Lacayo was stationed in England. Both are full time students at FIU studying Information Technology and Biology, respectively.

First load
Together, and with Lucia’s mother and Park Ranger Kevin Bowles Mohr, they fully loaded a sixteen foot trailer five feet high, twice with downed brush and trees from previous clean-up events.

The site is looking better after each event, but could always use some extra hands to help preserve this historic place.