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Hurricane Irma Update: Lara Milligan, UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County – Sept. 15

Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources (PCR) department manages more than 20,000 acres of parks and preserves enjoyed by more than 17 million visitors annually. When Hurricane Irma struck, PCR worked fast to have these valuable resources operational and open to the public, but it wasn’t without the help of faculty and staff from partner organization, UF/IFAS Extension.

Highlighted efforts involved cleanup by a north county team from Pinellas County Extension’s satellite office located at Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center. The Preserve buildings and trails fared well in the storm, but help was needed to cleanup other local, county parks. The team consisted of Lara Milligan, Natural Resources Agent; James Stevenson, Extension Specialist; Julia Myers, Education Support Specialist; Sheree Scheuer, Education Support Specialist; and Trevor Ackerman, Sustainability Program Assistant.

The north county team helped to clear large debris from the 121 acre Philippe Park in Safety Harbor, piling large tree branches in piles that would be picked up by a contractor, and leaving smaller vegetation to be cleared by the mowing crew. The following day, the same team headed to 255 acre John Chestnut Sr. Park in Palm Harbor to do similar work.

Pile of vegetation collected and removed from John Chestnut Sr. Park in Palm Harbor by team of UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County faculty and staff. Photo Credit: Lara Milligan

A south county team from Pinellas County Extension’s satellite office located at Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center also pitched in to help. This team consisted of Brian Niemann, Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Agent; Allison Saltoft, Education Support Specialist; and Jim Goodburn, Pinellas County volunteer.

The south county team cleared over five miles of hiking trails and one mile of a paddling trail at the 3,190 acre Weedon Island Preserve in St. Petersburg, a preserve enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts of all ages for biking, hiking, fishing, paddling and more!

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