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By Robert Connors
Managing Editor 

5,000 young Long Leaf Pines to be Planted in Lake Wales Ridge State Forest

Volunteers Sought to Assist on Wednesday Morning

 

Last updated 2/5/2022 at 1:01pm

Long Leaf Pines once dominated the habitat across the Lake Wales region. Less than one percent remain on the Ridge. The volunteer effort will see some 5,000 replanted in the State Forest.

Lake Wales area residents are being offered a hands-on habitat restoration activity which will see the planting of 5,000 young Long Leaf pines at the Lake Wales Ridge State Forest. The effort is being sponsored by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Division and their Ridge Rangers volunteer program. The purpose is to reintroduce native Long Leaf pines, in an effort to restore native and globally threatened habitats of the Lake Wales Ridge.

Mature Longleaf pines provide essential nesting sites for the Federally Endangered Red Cockaded Woodpecker, which don't nest in any other tree species, causing their numbers to plummet. The logging industry harvested most of these iconic trees long ago and replaced them with faster growing slash pines, which now dominate our pine flatwoods.

The planting event is a fun and rewarding activity conducted in the open and scenic forest lands. Ridge Ranger Coordinator Jamie Henry will conduct the planting, with volunteers meeting at the Walk-In-the-Water Campground in the Lake Wales Ridge State Forest, located at 6110 Walk-in-Water Road, Lake Wales. For more details and information interested persons may write Henry at [email protected] or phone her at (863) 991-0198.

According to organizers, it's an affair in which many hands make short work. and they are hoping for significant numbers of volunteers to handle the planned number of trees.

The planting effort begins at 8:30 Wednesday, February 9, and should be completed by noon. The weather is expected to be cool and cloudy, providing a perfect setting for volunteers to share the triumphant feeling that comes with an important task well done.

Volunteer Karen Freedman commented that "This is an especially good environmental stewardship activity for older youth groups like Boy Scouts."

 

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