“Ormond Beach to plant over 100 palm trees in Granada Boulevard medians. Lethal Bronzing Disease has infected and killed palm trees in 31 Florida counties. City staff said that likely won’t happen here.”

“Ormond Beach to plant over 100 palm trees in Granada Boulevard medians. Lethal Bronzing Disease has infected and killed palm trees in 31 Florida counties. City staff said that likely won’t happen here.”

Photo: Brian Bahder, UF/IFAS
“For over a decade, palm trees in Florida have been facing a plague with no cure…Lethal Bronzing Disease (LBD).

City Landscape Architect Cara Culliver said there have been no cases of the disease in Volusia County. The palms that were chosen for the project are Phoenix dactylifera ‘Medjool’ palms, which she said are less susceptible….

Don Spence, an associate professor of Biology at Bethune-Cookman University with a doctorate in plant pathology, likened the spread of LBD to malaria — just like mosquitos spread the disease in humans, insects spread LBD to different trees.

Plants infected with LBD don’t live long-term, Spence said. And while the disease has yet to be documented in Volusia, it doesn’t mean it never will be. Medjool palms, he said, are susceptible to the disease because they share the same Phoenix genus.

‘It’s just outside of our borders and it likely will be here in the near future,’ Spence said… Native vs. non-native

The planting of Medjool palm trees poses another question: Why not opt to plant native species?

The Medjool is native to the Atlantic Coast of Morocco, according to the GroundWorks website. Crape Myrtles originated in Asia.

Culliver said requirements from the Florida Department of Transportation play a big role in plant selection. All proposed trees and palms must have 8-foot trunk at installation to create for motor vehicle visibility. That limits what can be planted.

Cities are also bound to follow the FDOT Bold Landscape Standards, meaning they have to plant large mature palms or trees to create a bigger visual impact. The Medjool palms and Crape Myrtles abide by these requirements.

However, Culliver said that some native plants are used in medians across the state, including Coontie, Dwarf Yaupon, Holly, Muhly grass and sand cordgrass.

Spence said that while there are many native plants the city can use, the problem derives from maintaining grass in the medians. That can adversely impact the planted trees…”

— Jarleene Almenas, Ormond Beach Observer
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“Trees transplanted on Florida’s highways provide motorists’ benefits”

“Trees transplanted on Florida’s highways provide motorists’ benefits”

Photo: As seen in Villiages News
“…Beauty and stress relief are probably the two most meaningful benefits trees bring to highways,’ said Andrew Koeser, an assistant professor of environmental horticulture with the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences…

Recognizing these advantages, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) transplants many kinds of trees along the state’s highways, including palms, the variety most widely associated with the Sunshine State. Indeed, about 51 percent of the transplanted trees are palms. The rest include crape myrtles, buttonwoods and many other varieties.

To assess the success of its tree-planting program, FDOT awarded Koeser grant funding to study how well the transplanted trees survive and thrive.

Koeser and his team surveyed 2,711 trees along rural and urban stretches of the state’s highways. They found that more than 98 percent established themselves. That’s another way of saying the trees have survived the hardships of planting and are growing into the surrounding landscape.

‘The establishment rate is among the highest on record,’ said Koeser, a faculty member at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, Florida…

Brad Buck is with the University of Florida.”

— Brad Buck, University of Florida in the Villages News
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J.C. Penney Memorial Scenic Highway annual meeting

J.C. Penney Memorial Scenic Highway annual meeting

Meeting Photo: FDOT
“Designated in 2010, the J.C. Penney Memorial Scenic Highway, located in the Town of Penney Farms, celebrates the rich history of the surrounding community and the ongoing dedication of a grass roots organization focused on education and advocacy for a unique way of life. With the support of numerous devoted and enthusiastic volunteers, the byway has become a focal point in the community.

Photo: J. C. Penny Scenic Highway

Recently, the byway organization held their annual meeting at the Penney Farms Retirement Community. With nearly 45 people in attendance the group reviewed current projects, discussed upcoming events and held elections for the new year with all current board members being reelected and excited to take on the challenges of another term…”

— FDOT and J. C. Penney Scenic Highway

Read about J. C. Penny Scenic Highway

“Lovely as a tree. The greening of a highway interchange”

“Lovely as a tree. The greening of a highway interchange”

Photo: Air Force
“A team of Air Force volunteers and soil conservationists has completed a project to beautify five acres at the intersection of State Road 85 and the Spence Parkway in Niceville. The project included transferring 224 cubic yards of top-soil from a pond restoration project on Eglin Air Force Base to the site, adding fertilizer and mulch, planting Florida nativewildflower seeds, and planting 565 longleaf pine seedlings and 57 saw palmettos…

A key component to the project’s approval was finding an entity willing to take over upkeep of the land. The city of Niceville agreed to take on the task…the project area, which, like the rest of the Spence Parkway right of way, is built on Air Force land. A grant from National PublicLands Day, a part of the National Environment Education Foundation, funded $5,808 of the project. An in-kind donation from Eglin AirForce Base of $2,121 covered the remaining cost, bringing the total reported price tag to $7,930.

— Jacob Fuller, Bay Beacon
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“Going Green: Thriving wildflowers become roadside attraction in Florida”

“Going Green: Thriving wildflowers become roadside attraction in Florida”

Photo: Peter Bauer, AP

“Even though there had been a few previous attempts to promote roadside wildflowers, roadside vegetation ‘had never been seen by the department as a benefit,’ said state transportation landscape architect Jeff Caster.

Roadsides were seen ‘as a liability rather than an asset, something the department needs to perpetually control and keep from protruding into the road.

But over time, that attitude has changed and a new approach is taking shape, he said.

The recent study by George Harrison, an economist with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, was arranged at the urging of the Florida Wildflower Foundation… 

Using formulas and estimates from studies elsewhere in the nation, Harrison concluded the 93,000 acres of state highway rights of way that are covered in plants are worth more than a half-billion dollars a year, in terms of runoff reduction, carbon storage and pollination…

‘It’s a little bit of choreography,’ he said. ‘You have to figure out the right time to mow and the frequency of mowing.’

Mowing has to wait until after wildflowers bloom and produce seeds, so the mowers can help distribute the wildflowers’ seeds, he said. But without mowing the rest of the year, the wildflowers would be shaded out by other plants.

With the study in hand, Roberts said the Wildflower Foundation hopes to work with counties and the department to lobby for management that will keep the roadside ecosystems more natural, she said, adding beauty and providing more habitat for bees and other important pollinators.”

— Dinah Voyles Pulver , Daytona Beach News-Journal

William D. Brinton Celebration and Endowment in Jacksonville

William D. Brinton Celebration and Endowment in Jacksonville

Photo: Leah Powell
Bill Brinton has spent a lifetime as a protector of unspoiled views. He has successfully battled local, state and national forces bent on visual assault caused by installation of outdoor advertising and other unsightly intrusions.

He believes in the power of citizens to take a stand for the irreplaceable resources that matter most. Because of his foresight, you can be part of a mobilized citizenry that ensures our scenic surroundings for generations to come.

Bill chose to mark the 30th anniversary of the successful Jacksonville City Charter Amendment banning new billboards and removing more than 1,400 existing billboards with the creation of the Scenic Jacksonville Endowment to Protect and Enhance Scenic Beauty in Jacksonville.

When fully funded, this endowment will enable Scenic Jacksonville — also celebrating its 30th anniversary — to continue its vital work to preserve the breathtaking views we cherish and provide support for new projects that enhance our much-loved home.

It is Bill’s vision to raise $300,000 for the endowment, which is held at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida. His dream is to see it provide perpetual funding for the things he holds most dear: civic engagement, advocacy, and education.

He’s eager to involve the next generation by sponsoring photo and essay contests to instil a love of our natural surroundings in young citizens.

There is so much more we can do together if we rally around Bill’s visionary leadership and ultimate victory over unsightly signage.

For more information about the fund, please contact Nina Waters, President, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida at(904) 356-4483 or nwaters@jaxcf.org.

To contribute to the Scenic Jacksonville Endowment to Protect and Enhance Scenic Beauty in Jacksonville, go to jaxcf.org/donate and enter Scenic Jacksonville into the Search box.”
Save the Date: May 17 for a Celebration in Jacksonville
Visit the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida

–Scenic Jacksonville