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Thanks to a generous grant from the Florida Division of Forestry, the Randell Research Center will soon have over 900 new native trees, including a variety of tropical hardwood species and nearly 200 cabbage palms. As of the middle of September, 285 palm trees and 160 hardwoods had been planted, and we are hoping to have all trees in the ground by the end of October.

man sits on a tractor that is pulling a trailer filled with large potted trees
Bob Repenning (above) delivers tropical hardwood trees to their planting sites. Photo by M. Nanney

Trees are being planted both at the Gill House property and at the larger property where the pavilion/classroom is located. Our ultimate aim is to eliminate invasive exotic vegetation and encourage trees native to the southwest Florida coastal zone. A new walking trail northeast of the pavilion will be focused on native plants and their uses. We also plan a native-plant demonstration area at the Gill House/post office property that will provide a pleasant place to visit as well as to learn about natives that can be grown successfully in Southwest Florida.

With John Worth’s departure, Karen Walker has taken over as project director of the reforestation project. She has been ably assisted by experts from Lee County Parks and Recreation (especially Tylar Samuels and Jeff Anderson) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (especially John Aspiolea and Annette Nielsen), who have been very generous with their time. Rick Joyce and Bob Repenning have served as certified arborists for the project, while Brady Vogt of Pelican Nursery, John Cauthen of Forestry Resources, Rad and Betsy Hazen of Pine Island Growers, and Dale Norton of Busk and Associates have volunteered time and loaned machinery, water tanks, and other equipment. Margi Nanney, Carolyn Murphey, and Michael Wylde have been especially faithful helpers, but there have been many others, including members of the RRC advisory board, the local Coccoloba chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, the Pine Island Garden Club, and the Calusa Land Trust.

Volunteers have been participating since August, watering the steadily increasing number of new trees.

This article was taken from the Friends of the Randell Research Center Newsletter Vol 6, No. 3. September 2007.