Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Spotlight on SCCF

Among the jewels in Sanibel's crown is the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation.

Known and loved as SCCF, this organization was founded in 1967 and is the largest private landowner on Sanibel Island.  SCCF manages 1200 acres on tiny Sanibel with an additional 600 acres on even smaller Captiva.

We just recently discovered a tract of land that the Foundation owns adjacent to the Bailey Tract.  The area is aptly titled Sanibel Gardens Trail, and it is a delightful short walk with many bird watching opportunities.  The several ponds and lagoons are filled with wading birds and the trees are abundant with woodland and song birds.  So many sights and songs~

But if birding is not your thing, you can pick up island history, geography and biology right on the land owned and managed by SCCF.  In an effort to educate the public on their newest preserve, SCCF offers a one hour walking tour of their 28-acre property along Periwinkle Way.

Nine acres of the beautiful land served as the Bailey family's farm for many years; three generations of the Bailey family lived in the historic house that sits on the property today.

Landscaping for Wildlife Educator at SCCF, Dee Serage-Century heads the tour which begins at 8:30 a.m. at the west end of Shipley Trail. Serage-Century, who has lived on Sanibel for the past 35 years, tells the guests SCCF's history shortly after they arrive and about invasive plant species on the island. She said some of the worst have been the Brazilian pepper, air potatoes and the java plum.

"We release beetles to help with invasive species," Serage-Century said.

Along the trail, she points out a lone papaya tree which originally originated in South America and Mexico. Serage-Century said that papaya trees were around when the Calusa Indians lived on the island.

During the special tour, she briefly talked about the old windmill that was a part of the Bailey's farm. She said that SCCF volunteers uncovered it after they purchased the property in 2011. She also talks about the pavilion that was recently built for special events and the Devitt Pond Overlook.

Near the end of tour, she led guests to the newly planted demonstration gardens which seemed to be everyone's favorite of the tour. Their nursery is one of the first native plant nurseries in the state of Florida. Their native flower garden has taken off since it was planted last year.

"The flowers were planted as seedlings last summer. It was an experiment to see if we could keep doing it," she said.

One of the main reasons SCCF does the tour is so they can demonstrate to the public what they do as an organization.

"We do it so people understand what we do for a living which is habitat management and restoration, Serage-Century said. At the end of the tour, I hope they end up with a passion for protecting land for wildlife as well as themselves because it works both ways. I hope I spark an interest in native plants that are built for wildlife and pollinators, not just visually for us."



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