Beautiful Native Plants

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Monday, February 15, 2016

A few people CAN make a significant difference

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. --Margaret Mead

The entry to Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve

I first heard about Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve at the 2010 Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) Conference in Tallahassee when Dan Miller made a lunchtime presentation. He told about how he a few others had saved a unique acres-wide population of trout lilies in south Georgia just north of Tallahassee from development. His photos and his story took my breath away. This year I knew when they were going to bloom because of photos posted on Facebook, so my husband and I made the three-hour trek out to the preserve on Valentine's Day. (Yes, no flowers were harmed in my Valentine's Day treat.)

The amazing rout lilies formed an-acres-wide carpet.

Trilliums were also beautiful

The property had been owned by a lumber company that had selectively harvested most of the spruce pines from the site in 2007, but the beeches, magnolias, maples and the other trees had been left in place. In February 2008 The FNPS chapter in Tallahassee ran a field trip there and the movement to save this property was begun. First they went to organizations like The Nature Conservancy, which said that the project was too small, finally they found a Georgia Land Grant Conservation Program where the state would fund half of the cost for conservation properties if the locals raised the other half and the county would have title to it. Grady County agreed to take the title, but they would not spend any money for procurement or for maintenance. So now it was up to a small group of dedicated individuals to raise the money and come up with a maintenance plan.

Millions of dimpled trout lilies (Erythronium umbilicatum) grow on a gentle north-facing slope.

The property owner lowered the price to finally selling it at no profit. This was in the middle of the economic slump and he did gain a tax credit. The fund raising went fairly well with several individuals donating sizable amounts, but it was still $40,000 short as the last deadline loomed. Finally, an anonymous donor wrote a check for the rest of the amount and the deal was done! They had set aside 140 acres including the 13 acres where the trout lilies grew.
A sign for the twayblade orchid. A pink tape marks the location of the small orchid.
The millions of dimpled trout lilies (Erythronium umbilicatum) grow on a gentle north-facing slope along with spotted trillium (Trillium maculatum), spring coralroot (Corallorhiza wisteriana), twayblade orchid (Listeria australis) and some bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), which was not up yet when we were there. These are all spring ephemerals that sprout and bloom under a high deciduous forest before the leaves emerge. In the deep shade of summer through the fall and into winter, you would not know that they were there.

We arrived at noonish and had time to take some photos before the 2pm guided tour led by Beth Grant. While seeing the trout lilies and walking the trail by ourselves was great, going through it again with Beth made all the difference. She explained some of the history, but she went into detail on the trout lily biology and pointed out those tiny twayblade orchids that we had missed even though they were circled with pink tape. She talked about how much invasive privet that she and her monthly volunteers had pulled out of the flat land at the bottom of the trout lily slope. Very inspiring.

Beth Grant, one of the people who saved this site, talks about the trout lily root systems.

At the bottom of the hill, Beth explains how she and many, many volunteers have removed the invasive privet shrubs. There are some left (the light green shrubs to the left and above her left hand) , but she thinks that in one more year they'll be gone. 

As we were ready to leave before her 4pm tour, Beth handed me a flyer for Lost Creek Forest,  their next project where some public-owned property with a mature hardwood forest and some rare and endangered plants had been saved from becoming an industrial center. I guess once you see what you can accomplish for the greater good; it's hard to stop.

As we were getting ready to leave, another group was forming for the 3pm tour. 

A few people CAN make a significant difference

We won't have a society if we destroy the environment. --Margaret Mead

Posted by Ginny Stibolt