Hammock Park Adoption Program

In the new adoption program, volunteers will be assigned a zone of the park to watch and maintain. They will be trained to recognize, report and remove invasive species, as well as be introduced to new volunteer opportunities including: the creation of a photo archive to monitor the re-growth of native plants as they reclaim their place in the Hammock; the monitoring of gopher tortoise population and activity within a zone, and the measuring of water table levels within the park to record the status of rehydration efforts.

Volunteers work on their own schedule as their time allows. The first training session is February 6th, 9:00 am at Hammock Park.


Background

For two decades, hundreds of people have participated in one of Dunedin’s most popular volunteer events — the Air Potato Roundup at Hammock Park. Sponsored by the City of Dunedin and the Friends of the Hammock, the invasive air potato threat to the park was so great that the program was expanded to include not only the January Roundup, but a November/December Roundup. Tons of air potatoes were removed from the park at each event. Volunteer efforts through the Friends of the Hammock Adoption program worked year round to combat this invasive vine that kills both full grown trees and understory plants. Air potato eating beetles introduced to the park by the Friends of the Hammock aided in the war on this destructive vine. 

However, even with the remarkable success of controlling the air potato vine, the there was a realization that the Hammock faced many additional pressing problems. Other exotic plants, pests, erosion control, and wildlife habitat destruction needed to be addressed. In 2012, with the recommendation of the Hammock Park Advisory Committee and the Friends of the Hammock, the City of Dunedin set out to establish a new ten-year management plan for Hammock Park.  Bids were sent out and King Engineering Associates, Inc. was chosen to do the study in 2013. The Friends of the Hammock contributed $2,875.00 to defray some of the City's cost for the plan.  

One of the things the plan revealed was what was suspected by all those involved in invasive removal. As hard as volunteers and the City worked to conquer exotic plants in the Hammock, a piecemeal approach would never control the foreign plants and trees that threatened native growth. What was needed was a concentrated all-or-nothing approach to protect the Hammock. So in the spring of 2015, a professional firm was hired to remove all damaging invasive growth with a combination of chemical and mechanical removal. To date, ten of thirteen zones, established in the management plan, have been cleared of all non-native trees such as Senegal Date Palms, citrus trees, Brazilian pepper, invasive shrubbery, as well as the few remaining air potato vines.

Today, there are not enough air potatoes on the ground to support an air potato roundup. “But this just redefines our need for volunteers” reported Sue Humphreys, Chair of the Friends of the Hammock. “We need volunteers now to adopt a portion of the Hammock to remove any young spuds that will crop up (and they are) whether air potato, citrus or other and remove additional invasive not addressed such as the Boston fern.” 

“The beauty of this adoption program is that volunteers work on their own schedule as their time allows”, said Ms. Humphreys.  The first training program is scheduled for 9:00 am February 6th at the picnic are of the main entrance to the park off San Mateo Drive.

Additional training sessions will be conducted monthly as volunteers become available.

For more information, call Sue Humphreys at 727-736-3662.