ALVA, Fla. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District hosted volunteers from Southern Florida for a day of service at the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam South Recreation Area near Alva during National Pollinator Week, on Saturday, June 24, to plant nearly 9,000 Florida native pollinator wildflowers and grasses.
“We are excited to welcome volunteers from the local community to come help us plant Florida native wildflowers and grasses at the W.P. Franklin South Recreation Area,” said Megan Meyer Parsons, Natural Resource Specialist and event coordinator. “This is a great opportunity for folks to contribute to the community, especially for students needing volunteer or community service hours.”
As the day began, Greg Jones, Chief of the South Florida Operations Office in Clewiston, Florida. welcomed volunteers and sorted teams into groups for planting.
"We’d like to extend a warm welcome to volunteers of all ages to help us plant Florida native wildflowers and pollinator grasses at the W.P. Franklin South Recreation Area as part of our Engineering with Nature Program, which is in its second year at this location. It’s an important effort to reforest roughly 8.5 - acres of open land to create a natural habitat.” said Jones. “We are excited about this project and what it means to the community -- to have a place to visit native Florida habitat and experience the wildlife that comes along with it. Providing educational and recreational opportunities is an important part of our overall Recreation Program.”
“It’s something special to be involved in a project like this, where you can return years from now to see all your hard work grown into a beautiful natural area that provides a diverse habitat for native plants and animals, and shaded trails for local residents and visitors to enjoy,” Parsons said.
Nelson Colón, a Natural Resources Program Manager with the Jacksonville District said a few years ago, the Jacksonville District’s Natural Resources Program started brainstorming ideas on how to reduce the operation and maintenance costs of recreation assets such as those at the W.P. Franklin Recreation Area.
“This year’s effort is a continuation of Engineering with Nature initiative of planting native vegetation to reforest what used to be a very large open field, reducing the need for mowing, which in turn reduces the use of fossil fuels and saves taxpayer dollars,” said Nelson as he planted.
“We had a great turn out during our first planting day in September and are looking forward to another great turnout for this second and final phase of this reforestation project! The canopy trees that our volunteers planted last year have been established, and now we are working on filling in the understory with native pollinator plants,” said Parsons.
Parsons said people who comes out will be delighted to see butterflies and other pollinators already using some of the wildflowers that our volunteers have already planted. We will need a lot of volunteers to get nearly 9,000 plants into the ground in one day, so we hope you will join us. We will be planting native wildflowers such as Tropical Sage, Black-eyed Susan, Coreopsis, Eastern Purple Coneflower, Butterfly Milkweed, Blanket Flower, Sunshine Mimosa, and grasses like Wiregrass, Muhly Grass, and Sand Cordgrass, and many more.”
“Can you imagine how beautiful this natural area will look in the years to come, when the canopy and understory have filled in? It will be something that the volunteers will be able to feel very proud of when they come back, and maybe bring their children and grandchildren to walk together along the forested paths and enjoy many years into the future,” said Parsons. “What a wonderful legacy that will be!”
For more about the Engineering with Nature Project initiated at W.P. Franklin South Recreation Area in 2022, see: https://ewn.erdc.dren.mil/?p=8712
National Pollinator Week is June 19-25, 2023. For more information visit: https://www.pollinator.org/pollinator-week/pollinator-week-resources
Pollinator Facts (credit: Pollinator Partnership)
- Pollinators like bees, butterflies, and bats, provide 1 out of 3 bites of food we eat. Say thanks by planting native plants, supporting local farmers, and educating others about the importance of pollinators.
- About 75% of all flowering plant species need animal pollinators for reproduction. As a result, pollinators contribute to ecosystem health and a sustainable food supply.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District on the district’s website at https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JacksonvilleDistrict and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JaxStrong.