The Institute for Regional Conservation (IRC) announces that Lauren B. Trotta, PhD, has joined IRC as a Biodiversity Conservation Fellow thanks to support from the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA).
In this role, Dr. Trotta will facilitate the effort to conduct a 20-year review of the IRC’s Rare Plants of South Florida, a treatise on the status of South Florida’s rarest plants published in 2002. This book, produced after an intensive seven years of work by IRC and dozens of collaborators, documented the status of the rarest 25% of the native plants in South Florida, including more than 100 that were possibly extinct in the region. The release of Rare Plants of South Florida was followed by a series of land manager workshops, and then an explosion of plant survey and study work in the region by IRC and many others.
"What has changed over the past 20 years?” asks IRC Executive Director, George Gann. “We certainly know a lot more, but what has happened to the rarest species in the South Florida flora? Have they recovered to some degree, or have they continued to decline? How do national parks and other protected areas help conserve regionally rare biodiversity? Lauren is going to help IRC answer these questions and more."
Originally hailing from Connecticut, Lauren earned her BS in Biology from Providence College in Providence, RI before moving to Gainesville, FL, where she earned her MSc and PhD in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida. Lauren’s previous research experience focused on understanding the drivers of floristic diversity in Miami-Dade’s urban pine rockland habitat fragments. She is excited to continue contributing to rare plant conservation in this role with the IRC.
“Lauren is highly skilled in both conducting research on native plants and in handling large complex datasets. We are thrilled to have her bring her expertise to this critical work,” states Mr. Gann.
Melissa Abdo, Director of the Sun Coast Regional Office of NPCA stated, “NPCA applauds the long-term efforts of our partners at IRC to study and share regional biodiversity information and to connect communities in South Florida to their natural heritage. South Florida is unique in that our ecosystem is anchored by both large national park sites – Big Cypress, the Everglades, and Biscayne – as well as a mosaic of other protected lands and waters such as national wildlife refuges, state and local parks, and even backyard habitats. Bringing a lens of science to understanding how rare plant diversity is conserved across these parks of South Florida will bring such value to our community. I’m excited to collaborate with IRC and discover what has changed over the last twenty years, and what conservation opportunities lie ahead for the future.”
Today, January 24, 2022, The Institute for Regional Conservation, Center for Biological Diversity, and National Parks Conservation Association filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to list the imperiled Florida-native ghost orchid, Dendrophylax lindenii, as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, and to designate critical habitat concurrent with listing.
The ghost orchid is an icon of beauty and nature’s abundance,” said George Gann, executive director at The Institute for Regional Conservation. “It’s long demise in southern Florida and Cuba, in part due to its immense popularity, is a bellwether of things to come. We can do nothing and watch another species go extinct in the wild, or we can act now to protect and restore this flagship orchid and its wild habitats. The Florida we envision includes a restored Greater Everglades ecosystem with all of its biological diversity, including the ghost orchid.
On December 17, IRC had the privilege of hosting a Restoring the Gold Coast volunteer day at Red Reef Park in Boca Raton. Thank you to the City of Boca Raton, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center staff, and volunteers for helping us continue to restore native biodiversity at this coastal park!
Together, we removed several large patches of the invasive Scaevola taccada (Beach naupaka). We also cut back some sea grapes to open up an area containing a beautiful patch of the federally endangered Jacquemontia reclinata (Beach clustervine) to provide more sunlight. Finally, we increased diversity of native plants in the coastal strand by adding plants such as Serenoa repens (Saw palmetto), Jacquemontia reclinata (Beach clustervine), Ernodea littoralis (Beach- creeper), and Dalea floridana (Florida prairieclover).
For more photos from the event, click here.
IRC would like to welcome our new Pine Rockland Initiative Field Crew Member, George Guillen. George is currently a student at Florida International University working on his Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science. He already has some experience with pine rockland work and research.
Welcome to the team, George!
The USFWS Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office recently announced that the fern, Elaphoglossum serpens, was rediscovered by José Sustache (Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources) as part of a species survey conducted through a Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (Sect 6) grant. Learn more about this find here or check out our plant page here.
IRC’s Executive Director, George Gann, was involved in the development of 10 Principles to guide the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, as part of his role as International Policy Lead for the Society for Ecological Restoration. The Principles were launched earlier this month at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France. Awesome job, George! You can download them by clicking here.
Thank you to those who sent us wildlife photos for our Natives For Your Neighborhood (NFYN) webpage after our request in last month's newsletter. We updated 8 butterfly species that were missing photos and even added 2 new pollinators into our database. Check out the wildlife page in NFYN to see these updates!
We are still looking for more butterfly photos listed here. So if you have pictures of eggs, caterpillars, or butterflies of any species on our list, share them with Cara Abbott. We also welcome photos of other native pollinators not yet on our NFYN site like moths, bees, and birds. Photo credit will be used with each of your photos used on our website.
IRC continues its restoration activities at the United States Department of Defense SOCSOUTH facility, adjacent to the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead, Florida. This work focuses on restoring the pine rockland habitat for two federally endangered plants, Galactia smallii (Small's milkpea) and Linum arenicola (Sand flax).
Over the last several years, we have focused our efforts on invasive species control and native hardwood reduction. Currently, we are utilizing restoration mowing at the site to effectively manage native and nonnative weeds and increase native pine rockland groundcover diversity. We have observed native species flourishing and beginning to colonize even the most disturbed areas. We expect to see further expansion as restoration continues. Click here to read more.
Gabriel Caceres joined IRC as a field crew member in December 2020 and worked mostly in our Ecological Restoration and Management (ERM) programs like our Pine Rockland Initiative (PRI).
Gabriel recently resigned from IRC to pursue a position as a Wildlife Biologist in Texas. We wish him the best in his new endeavors. Thank you and goodbye, Gabriel!
Congratulations to Donnie Faughnan who was recently promoted from field crew member to field crew leader with IRC! Donnie started with us nearly two years ago and has been a vital part of our Pine Rockland Initiative program. He will now be able to continue his passion for restoration by overseeing a crew of IRC restoration technicians.
Thank you for your hard work and dedication, Donnie!
One of the ways we are updating the pollinator pages in Natives For Your Neighborhood (NFYN) is by making sure each species of butterfly has photos included on its page. Click here for a list of butterfly species that still need photos in NFYN. If you have pictures of eggs, caterpillars, or butterflies of any species on our list, share them with Cara Abbott. Photo credit will be used with each of your photos used on our website.
We also plan on expanding the wildlife included in NFYN beyond just butterflies. Do you have any photos of other wildlife (bees, beetles, moths, birds, etc.) utilizing native plants that you would be willing to share with us? If so, send them to Cara Abbott with a brief description of what is included in the photo.
If you love our work, then tell the world! Stories about how you've volunteered with us, used our free online databases, or learned something new from a workshop from people like you will help us make an even bigger impact in our community. GreatNonprofits – the #1 source of nonprofit stories and feedback – is honoring highly regarded nonprofits with their 2021 Top-Rated List.
Won’t you help us raise visibility for our work by posting a brief story of your experience with us? All content will be visible to potential donors and volunteers. It’s easy and only takes 3 minutes! Click here to get started!
IRC is currently accepting applications for team member (field technician) positions for 2021 for our Pine Rockland Initiative program. Our restoration projects will be in Miami-Dade County working on restoring the pine rockland fragments through invasive plant treatment, native hardwood reduction, rare plant monitoring, seed collecting, and other restoration activities. Responsibilities include using hand tools and mechanical tools, such as chainsaws and brush cutters, and applying herbicide. Some knowledge of south Florida plants (native and non-native) is preferred but not required (must have the ability to learn in the field). Must be okay working in the south Florida climate (hot and humid). Must be able to lift 50 lbs. Full-time, starting pay rate is $10.50/hour, and must have reliable transportation. Our field office is located in Goulds, FL (south Miami-Dade County). Email Cara Abbott your resume and cover letter at email@example.com.
Click here for more information.
IRC hosted another event in celebratation of the Society for Ecological Restoration's Make a Difference Week at Florida City Pineland Preserve. As part of this event, we held a field trip/bioblitz to get the citizens of Miami-Dade County outside and into the local natural areas. Thank you to all who came out and contributed and learned about the imperiled pine rockland ecosystems.
IRC hosted a restoration event on World Environment Day at Atlantic Dunes Park! This event also celebrated the launch of the United Nation's Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and the Society for Ecological Restoration's Make a Difference Week.
Our wonderful volunteers helped us remove invasive species and plant Tephrosia curtissii (Curtiss' hoarypea) (state endangered and IRC critically imperiled) and Dalea floridana (Florida prairieclover) (Federally and state endangered and IRC critically imperiled), which have been grown specially for our Restoring the Gold Coast project by Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
As we prepare for our event on June 5th to celebrate the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, we want to reflect on the progression of our work at Atlantic Dunes Park (ADP), in Delray Beach, Florida. Since 2016, IRC has worked to restore coastal biodiversity at ADP. This work has included floristic research and restoration planning, invasive plant removal, native plant installations, trash pick-up, and photo monitoring. Our focus has been on the restoration of the critically rare coastal strand community, which has been nearly obliterated in southeastern Florida south of northern Palm Beach County. We have been able to augment or reintroduce many native species that were previously documented at the park, were missing, or are very rare in dunes in southern Palm Beach County. Click here for a list of plants at ADP.
Restoration at ADP has been part of our Green Delray and Restoring the Gold Coast program (RGC) which was the 2019 Environmental Award winner from Impact 100 Palm Beach County (Impact PBC). We have been able to make a lot of progress removing invasive plants and adding biodiversity while including the local community. This has provided many opportunities over the years for volunteers to be part of the restoration process and to learn why it is important to protect and restore coastal ecosystems. Many volunteers have returned multiple times, becoming key volunteer crew members and team leaders. These volunteers are key to us making a difference.
IRC is currently accepting applications for team member (field technician) positions for 2021 for our Pine Rockland Initiative program. Our restoration projects will be in Miami-Dade County working on restoring the pine rockland fragments through invasive plant treatment, native hardwood reduction, rare plant monitoring, seed collecting, and other restoration activities. Responsibilities include using hand tools and mechanical tools, such as chainsaws and brush cutters, and applying herbicide. Some knowledge of south Florida plants (native and non-native) is preferred but not required (must have the ability to learn in the field). Must be okay working in the south Florida climate (hot and humid). Must be able to lift 50 lbs. Full-time, starting pay rate is $10.50/hour, and must have reliable transportation. Our field office is located in Goulds, FL (south Miami-Dade County). Email Michelle Smith your resume and cover letter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IRC received a $1,000 individual grant from the New York Life Foundation to recognize the time and expertise agents provide to local nonprofits in their local community. This grant recognizes the volunteer service of John Campanola, Agent with New York Life’s South Florida General Office in Sunrise, who has been a volunteer with the IRC for over seven years and is serving on their Board of Directors.
Both John and the New York Life Foundation have been key support of IRC's work. Everyone at IRC is grateful for their continued support and plan to use this grant towards our Green Delray Program.
IRC's field biologist, Michelle Smith, and restoration crew leader, Alex Seasholtz, led volunteers to help clean up George N. Avery Pineland. There were lots of beer bottles, random car parts, and random house debris. A 10yd dumpster was filled! Thank you volunteers for all of your help.
IRC's administrative assistant, Samantha Gabriel, had a great time at the City of Boynton Beach’s drive-thru 200-tree giveaway event for Earth Day 2021! We had a booth to hand out stickers and info on IRC’s work with some of our friends, like Community Greening, Sea Turtle Adventures, Surfrider Foundation, Loggerhead Marine Center, and more.
Thanks for having us City of Boynton Beach and Go Green Boynton. Happy Earth Day to all!
For this year's Native Plant Field Day, IRC led a field trip at Pine Shore Pineland Preserve in south Miami-Dade County as part of the Dade Chapter Florida Native Plant Society's (DCFNPS) Native Plant Field Day weekend.
IRC's restoration crew leader, Alex, and field biologist, Michelle, shared the ongoing restoration and collaboration efforts that have been going on at the preserve for several years now. We were able to find some great pine rockland plants in flower and saw so many Echo moth caterpillars munching on anything they could get their mouths on! Plants we saw in flower were Butterflyweed, Forked bluecurls, and Pricklypear. Thank you DCFNPS for putting together this weekend of field trips.
IRC's George Gann gave a talk to our friends at Ocean Ridge Garden Club (ORGC) on The Institute for Regional Conservation - Conservation and Gardening in a Changing World. George discussed the importance of native plant gardening and how it can contribute to the restoration of our environment.
IRC's George Gann presented in this webinar hosted by the Cuplet Fern Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS). In this webinar, he talked about the restoration of native plant communities. If you missed the webinar or want to share it, follow this link.
Thank you Cuplet Fern FNPS and congratulations on celebrating 10 years!
Thank you to everyone who came out to the Lake Ida Parcel this month. Volunteers helped us remove non-native and invasive plants such as Caesarweed, Carrotwood, Earleaf acacia, Lima, Rose Natalgrass, and many more. Special thank you to John Miller for being our wonderful chauffeur!
IRC continued restoration work at Red Reef Park in Boca Raton by improving areas of the park to benefit native coastal plants. To follow up this habitat restoration work, we planted over 130 native plants including Baycedar, Beach morningglory, Blacktorch, Blolly, Marlberry, Saw palmetto, White indigoberry, and much more.
These efforts were made possible by a collaboration with Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and the City of Boca Raton. We appreciate Neglected Plants, Coastal Grower's, Inc., and the volunteers for their help in making this happen!
George Gann led an interactive teaching tour for the Beach Properties Owners' Association (BPOA) at the Delray Beach Municipal Beach highlighting IRC's restoration activities. Only 12 members were allowed to attend to minimize the disturbance to the dunes and the fragile native plants that are just now taking root. Participants learned how native plants were added in areas where sea grapes had been trimmed as well as in areas where undesirable invasive species were removed. The benefits of biodiversity were described and shown in the middle of the dune system, which opened several eyes and minds.
The BPOA is a non-profit organization for residents of Delray Beach's barrier island. Their mission is to tackle environmental and lifestyle issues that benefit residents and visitors alike.