Pinellas Chapter Awarded $5,000 Conservation Grant From FNPS

The Pinellas Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society has been awarded the FNPS 2021 Conservation Grant to perform a floristic inventory of the newly-protected and hard-won Gladys Douglas property. The 44-acre Douglas property located on the border of Dunedin and Clearwater was purchased jointly by the City of Dunedin and Pinellas County for $10M, with $4.5M in public donations, to protect the last remaining rosemary bald in this highly urbanized county. Listed species including Garberia heterophylla, Lechea cernua, Lechea divaricata and gopher tortoises reside in the scrub. The Douglas property consists of sandhill, wetlands and the last remaining rosemary bald in the county. The City of Dunedin will develop the property for passive public use. Pinellas County will manage the rosemary bald and sandhill.

This grant will fund a year-long field based floristic survey and inventory of the entire property, with emphasis on the scrub and rosemary bald. Invasive exotics will also be documented. GPS (Global Positioning System) will assist with locating plant populations and developing detailed ecosystem mapping. The data and mapping will serve as a baseline for the City of Dunedin to use when planning development of infrastructure, determining where the public should be allowed to travel within the proposed passive park area, PCR management of the native plant communities by prescribed fire and other means, and removal of invasive species. Since conservation of Florida’s native plant species and their habitats are inherent to the mission of FNPS, the project aligns closely with FNPS priorities.

Botanical and Ecological Consultant Edwin Bridges will lead the survey with support from a USF Grad student, the Pinellas Chapter FNPS, FNPS and the Clearwater Audubon Society, who contributed $2,250 in matching funds. The data acquired in the study will allow Clearwater Audubon to recommend bird-friendly native plants for restoring the homestead acreage and other disturbed areas after the non-natives are removed.

The Pinellas Chapter donated $5,000 in cash toward the land acquisition and skilled volunteer service, led by project manager Debbie Chayet, of a minimum of 80 hours is planned to assist Mr. Bridges and his grad student during the multiple times they will perform field activities. Skilled volunteers will also identify the non-native plants within the homestead acreage. 

Considerable grassroots and community support led to the ultimate acquisition of this property with the expectation that the public would have access to the property for passive use. This survey is critical to the future management of the property and protection of the rare resources and will also be used to influence the future park development.

The mission of the Florida Native Plant Society is to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida.