by Mike Martin & Doug Ott
A successful fundraiser took place April 1st – 3rd for Seminole State Forest with the support from the Friends of Florida State Forests (FFSF) program, Florida Forest Service staff, volunteers, other individuals and local organizations that pledged their support.
Staff and volunteers walked over thirty miles of hiking trails over a 3-day period on Seminole State Forest (SSF). The hike was initiated to raise funds for projects on the forest. These projects included Scrub Jay management, equipment, supply needs for volunteers, and restoration of a two-room lake front cabin near the Florida National Scenic Trail.
Forester Mike Martin organized the effort which included two SSF staff: OPS Park Ranger Ken Cox and Biologist Ralph Risch. Volunteers hiking and supporting the effort included Paul Heffron, Buster Mann, Linda & Rick Roberts and Jim Clark.
Ralph Risch, Seminole State Forest Biologist, decides it’s time for a break!
According to Forester Martin, the group experienced all types of environmental conditions which included heat, humidity, high winds, rain, cold and even good weather! On our first day of hiking we observed an unusual Ring Neck Snake, but before our hike ended, we got a visit at the “Shelter Camp” near the Wekiva River. Doug Ott, Program Coordinator for Friends of Florida State Forests, Florida Forest Service’s non-profit direct support organization, thanked us for our effort and commitment for this 3-day fundraiser! That night, we stayed in tents at the Wekiva Primitive Camp Site and the sound of the rain on our tents was most restful. Day two of hiking covered over ten miles as the group was very happy to reach Bunk Camp. The Bunk Camp structure was originally an old hunt camp/ bunk house which has been restored with the help of three boy scouts who each earned Eagle Scout status. I have to say the bunk beds were harder than sleeping on the ground! However, during the night we did hear a coyote Yelping and Howling! Day three of hiking was picture perfect, and the group completed the hike at the state forest’s far western edge near the Lake Tracy Canal.
Doug Ott, Friends of FL State Forests Coordinator (far right) joins the group showing appreciation for their participation!
Forty-two individuals and groups supported our hiking effort. The groups included the Sierra Club, Rotary Club of Lake County, Mt. Dora Women’s Club, and the Seminole State Forest Community Support Organization.
I wish to thank everyone who supported our effort! You made this pledge hike an event to remember! Our Seminole State Forest Cmmunity Support Organization along with FFSF is already helping us plan future fund raising events. Anyone who wishes to support Seminole State Forest and/or join our community support organization, please contact Mike Martin at (352) 360-6677, or email Michael.Martin@FreshFromFlorida.com. For more information on the Friends of Florida State Forests program, please contact Doug Ott at (850) 681-5875, email Doug.Ott@FreshFromFlorida.com or visit floridastateforests.org.