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Wakulla Area Times Arbor Day Feb. 2011

We have given birth to a new tradition at the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office in 2011. Every January a new planting will be added to the WCSO landscape as part of Arbor Day. The planting of trees and shrubs will add aesthetics to the landscaping and eventually help provide shade and a reduction of energy consumption.

Officially, Arbor Day in Florida is the third Friday in January which was Jan. 21, 2011. As an outdoorsman and native of Wakulla County, I feel a deep connection to our trees. I am fortunate to have a wide variety of trees on my property and many of those trees have been part of the Wakulla County landscape for more than 100 years.

I am proud that Wakulla County is realizing the importance of trees and the many benefits they provide. It is just as important to include plantings at a public workplace as it is on private property.
The first Arbor Day took place on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska. Nebraska journalist Julius Sterling Morton created the idea as a way to improve agricultural techniques in Nebraska. Early Nebraska homesteaders were encouraged to plant trees to provide shelter, shade, fruit, fuel and beauty for residents of the largely treeless plains. Morton expanded the idea when he served as President Grover Cleveland’s Secretary of Agriculture.

The success of Arbor Day in Nebraska prompted other states across the Union to adopt their own Arbor Days and eventually President Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day. The actual dates of Arbor Day vary across the United States depending on climate in the region.

For homeowners, Arbor Day is an excellent opportunity to take stock of the trees on your property and plan for the future. Florida forests provide vital habitat for endangered species and are critical to protecting unique Florida natural ecosystems. Florida forests are a haven for recreation while providing immeasurable environmental benefits to the state. Florida’s State Tree is the Cabbage Palmetto.

The WCSO Arbor Day planting was a Camellia Japonica of the Professor Charles S. Sargent Camellia family. The planting bears peony-form flowers in an intense scarlet. The blooms will provide vibrant color during the colder winter months when most of the rest of the flowering community is at rest.

The camellia will grow to a height of eight to 10 feet tall and perhaps as wide as three feet in an evergreen state.

The camellia is a wonderful flowering addition to the sheriff’s office property which also includes a Japanese Magnolia which was planted in honor of Victim Advocates Week in April 2010 and a variety of mostly oak trees planted by the county in December to create more shade and beauty for the future.

My wife Rhonda and I are so fortunate to have a huge variety of hardwoods on our farm. When we purchased and moved onto our property, we were careful to keep our driveway winding and narrow in an effort to save as many of our majestic, beautiful hardwoods as possible.

We enjoy sharing our farm and you may have visited our farm for some of the community events including the Florida State University Flying High Circus, The Bull Bash, Law Day, Boy Scout events and more.

I am reminded of our efforts everyday when I go to and from work and get to enjoy the natural beauty and shade they provide. Some of the trees include red oak, cypress, maples, white oaks, dogwoods, Yaupon holly, myrtles and sparkleberry, live oaks and magnolias.

I am reminded that Wakulla County was once a Maritime Forest that connected inland trees to others along the coastline. The larger live oaks, southern magnolias and cabbage palms provided shade for understory species such as red bay, yaupon and American holly, sparkleberry, wax myrtle, saw palmetto, vines, Spanish moss and many kinds of ferns and wood flowers.

The tall and majestic hardwoods at Harvey-Young Farm provide wonderful habitat for squirrels, deer, opossums, raccoons, fox, turkey and bear. I see these animals everyday on my way to and from work. I feel blessed everyday that I am able to call the county home and enjoy this natural beauty.

Two great Wakulla pioneers, S.B. Forbes and J.K. Moore, once farmed the land I call home and cleared the property with mules and crosscut saws over the years. They cut down only enough trees to provide space for farming. The result is trees and animals that have been around for many decades giving us pleasure.

I encourage everyone in Wakulla County to consider planting trees and sharing our county’s natural beauty for many future generations. I believe that Keeping Wakulla County Beautiful also Keeps Wakulla Safe. 

 

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