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.

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