Since the 1980s, the state of Florida, the
federal government, county governments, and private entities have invested more than $75
million to purchase the last few ancient upland scrubs and sandhills that remain along the
Lake Wales Ridge (LWR). To date, approximately
130,000 acres are in conservation ownership, creating a network of 40 biological preserves
managed by 12 different entities. Purchasing and managing land to save this
ecosystem continues to be the state of Floridas highest priority. Among the critical
remaining areas of scrub acquired during 199798, the most important was a large
portion (1,651 acres) of the Carter Creek site. This acquisition included 934 acres
purchased by the State of Florida (to be managed by the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish
Commission), 629 by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, and 88 by The Nature Conservancy,
thus expanding the countrys first National Wildlife Refuge for endangered plants.
Archbold Biological Station has also played a direct role in adding protected acres of
scrubin 1998 a further 60 acres of scrubby flatwoods and rosemary bald were added to
the extreme southwest corner of the Station (the Stations main property now totals
5,140 acres). The purchase was achieved using; mitigation funds from a regional pipeline
development, a donation from Archbold friend Mrs Agnes Andreae through The Nature
Conservancy, and from many private donations to Archbolds Scrub Acquisition Fund.
The site was named the Calamintha Scrub (see photo,
this page) , in recognition of the large numbers of Calamintha
ashei (see photo, this page) it supports, at a small dedication ceremony on 3 April 1998. The scrub habitats
to the northwest of Archbold Biological Station still remain unprotected, although the
scrub habitat chopping incident at this site in 1996 (reported in the 199596 Biennial) was successfully
prosecuted in 1997.
Even though much remains to complete proposed conservation
acquisitions for the LWR, Archbold now finds itself also contributing to new initiatives
concerning management and community participation at the recently established LWR sites.
We have been instrumental in helping coordinate land management and habitat mapping
initiatives for the other sites along the Ridge, with a vision of an integrated repository
of cross-site data concerning scrub habitat and fire management histories. We recognize
that for lasting conservation on the Ridge, the scrub and sandhills must find a place in
the hearts and minds of local townships and communities. Archbold has worked with other
members of the Lake Wales Ridge Ecosystem Working
Group, a unique consortium encompassing many local, state, and federal agencies,
non-governmental organizations, and interested citizens, to develop a Communications Plan
to reach these communities. The plan identifies target audiences including
decision-makers, realtors/developers, landowners, tourism industry, residents and voters,
activist/conservation organizations, schools and informal educators. A first step towards
implementing this plan has been the publication of "Floridas
Ancient Islands," a 16-page booklet celebrating the values of the
scrub ecosystem, that was prepared by The Nature Conservancy with technical contributions
from the Station. As a second step towards implementing the Communications Plan, we were
delighted to receive an award from the Elizabeth Ordway Dunn Foundation, through The
Nature Conservancy, to expand Archbolds Web site with information about how to get
involved in protecting this fascinating ecosystem.
In the midst of acquisition, management, and education
challenges, none of us at Archbold forget that the very survival of scrub ecosystems,
which have so informed, inspired, and challenged us as scientists, will continue to depend
on us conveying our feeling of wonder and scientific adventure to others. Scrub is not an
ecosystem easily appreciated by those that disdain science; without scientific
understanding the ability to grasp and fathom its wonder and beauty is greatly diminished.
John Jerome wrote in his 1994 essay on the Last Great Placesentitled Scrub
Beautiful Scrub"here is all this biology, working all these complex schemes
to accommodate the geographical harshness that soil, climate, altitude and aspect have
Whats so beautiful about scrub, you eventually come to realize, is
that it works; that it simply is." Understanding this type of beauty, observed
the late Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, is "that to which the human mind responds at its
deepest and most profound."
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© Archbold Biological Station, 12 April 2000
Webmaster: Fred E.
Archbold Biological Station, P.O. Box 2057, Lake Placid,
Florida 33862 USA
Phone: 863-465-2571, FAX: 863-699-1927, email