Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens Florida Urban and Community Forestry Grant | Environment

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Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens Florida Urban and Community Forestry Grant

November 23, 2010 The Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens, Inc. significantly enhanced it’s outreach to the community with the aid of the Florida Urban and Community Forestry Grant Program during 2010.  These funds were made available to organizations and municipalities to develop or enhance their urban and community forestry programs.

The Arboretum is a unique property in Duval County, Florida in that within its 120 acres lie 13 distinct ecosystems.  From fresh water ravine to salt marsh, from oak hammock to upland sand hill, the Arboretum offers a bio-diversity matched by few other areas in Northeast Florida.  Except for special events, there is no charge for admission to the Arboretum and it is open to the public seven days a week during daylight operating hours. 

The Arboretum is managed by a volunteer board.  It has no paid employees and limited expertise with community outreach and program development.  The proceeds of a $20,000 grant, which was matched with a donation of more than 3,000 hours of volunteer service, enabled management to retain a consultant to educate and assist it with enhancing exposure of the Arboretum in the community.  The enhanced exposure attracted new volunteers and visitors to the Arboretum.  In addition, the public’s enjoyment of the forest was increased through the addition of several new and improved programs, including guided evening nature walks through the forest.  Additional programs to further the outdoors experience and enhance the physical and mental wellbeing are also on the drawing board. 

Through better community outreach, additional or more frequent programs, improved social media and graphics, a new trail map, and enhanced communication techniques instituted by our consultant, approximately 20,000 volunteers and visitors were attracted to the Arboretum during the period from January, 2010 through November, 2010. 

Although there were many activities and projects at the Arboretum during the course of the year, including new tree plantings and the removal of invasive plants, the highlight of the year was the completion of a new trail, the Rosemary Ridge Trail.  At one mile in length, and taking nearly a year for volunteers to complete, the Rosemary Ridge Trail is the longest of the Arboretum’s six trails.  Named for the native rosemary that grows there, the trail traverses a Xeric Hammock that offers the public expansive salt-marsh views and a Sand hill community of lofty pines and seasonal pond.  A side trail allows visitors to see the environmentally sensitive area where the native rosemary and deer moss grow.  Educational signage enhances the visitor’s understanding and appreciation of this unique area.  The Forestry Grant substantially enhanced the ability of management to complete this trail, reach additional visitors and volunteers, and to better encourage the public to get outdoors to enjoy and appreciate a beautiful urban forest!

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