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Kiosks built to inform about park invaders
Downpour results in reschedule of Lake Seminole Park clean-up day.
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Located near the boat ramp, one of Lake Seminole Park’s new environmental interpretive kiosks educates visitors about the lake’s watershed management plan, common animals and invasive, exotic plants.
SEMINOLE – Maybe knowing the difference between pickerelweed and Cogon grass doesn’t seem like a big deal at Lake Seminole Park. But the first is welcome to grow leisurely around the lake while Cogon grass is an uninvited pest.

But unfortunately this nuisance plant has plenty of unwelcome company sprouting around like air potatoes, the camphor tree, Japanese climbing fern and the ever-dreaded Brazilian pepper.

Thanks to two new environmental interpretive kiosks, visitors can learn a lot about the various plant and animal species that call Lake Seminole Park their home as well as the undesirable invasive, exotic plants. Now, a stroll through the park can be not only relaxing but educational as well. Best not to tell the kids.

And, there’s much to learn, especially about invasive plants and the problems they cause. For one, they displace native plant communities. Also, these exotics increase the risk to wildlife and are carried across the county by wind, water or by birds. Actually, about 1.5 million acres of Florida’s remaining natural areas are threatened by populations of exotic, pest plants.

But not only are the environmental villains posted on the kiosks, but information is found about natural park friends such as the alligator, bald eagle, river otter and green tree frog.

Patrons also can learn about what’s going on with the lake’s watershed management plan. The focus is on the “de-mucking” to remove heavy sediment along the lake and what citizens can do to help out.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work on invasive, exotic plant control over the years and a lot of restoration along the lake,” said Debbie Chayet, grants specialist for the Pinellas County Park Department.

“So, with these issues, it seemed like a good fit.”

One kiosk is located near the boat ramp while the other is greeting people along the recreational trail.

Chayet said the grant was secured through a community education program by the Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board Southwest Florida Water Management District. The kiosks, filled with colorful photographs and helpful descriptions, took about three months to pull together.

The idea was to unveil the new educational boards during a July 17 Perk Up a Park event, but buckets of rain kept most of the volunteers away.

“Well, there were a lot of ducks,” said Chayet with a chuckle.

But hope is not lost as the clean-up event has been rescheduled for Saturday, Oct. 30, from 8 to 11:30 a.m. The goal is to get rid of invasive plants.

This activity will be folded in with the county’s celebration of Greenways and Trails Month. A statewide effort, this campaign will provide lots of opportunities for Floridians and visitors to head outdoors with families and friends.

To sign up for the cleanup, call 549-6156.
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