Guest editorial: Conservancy walk held, two more scheduled

LC_TourApril6SUBMITTED BY THE GICIA – On Friday, March 27, a small group of island residents gathered to explore one of the GICIA Land Conservancy properties with certified arborist Rick Joyce. It was a beautiful day and although there was a threat of rain, it held off for the group to fully explore this parcel that is not normally open to the public.


Pileated woodpeckers worked feverishly in a tree and osprey shrieked overhead. Unfortunately, we did not get a glimpse of the elusive mangrove cuckoo, but everyone seemed to enjoy learning about the native plants and trees that have been used to restore this beautiful island site.

If you missed the tour on March 27 don’t worry, the GICIA has a second tour scheduled for Saturday, April 25. However, these tours, scheduled for 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., are limited to only 10 people per tour and are booking fast. If you are interested, please call the GICIA Office and reserve your space today!

The tour on the 25th will move along a shell path through a five-acre parcel not generally accessible to the public.

Rick is a knowledgeable guide and gives informative, fun tours. He will point out the various species of native plants and talk about GICIA’s exciting native orchid restoration efforts.

Besides the numerous species of birds, you will most likely see one of the most exciting parts of this tour will be hearing about GICIA’s efforts to re-establish native butterfly orchids on this particular parcel of conservation property on Boca Grande. Once a fairly common epiphytical (growing on trees, not on the ground) orchid in South and Central Florida, the beautiful butterfly orchid (Encyclia tampensis) has been illegally harvested and hurt by cold weather, which has resulted in severely reduced numbers in the wild.

In fact, there are so few remaining they are now listed as a state protected. After a tough start, the orchid restoration project is now considered a success. The new plants showed significant blooms last summer, which indicates happy healthy plants.

This is a terrific opportunity to “experience” GICIA’s conservation efforts, learn about the restoration of these important parcels and possibly get a glimpse of the secretive mangrove cuckoo.

Call the GICIA Office 964-2667 to sign up.

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