November 2008 Report

Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius) is an invasive tree that can easily overtake enormous areas very quickly. Flowers of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, by Kathleen McNary Wood says, on p. 194,
“ . . . this species was . . . introduced into the region as an ornamental plant. . . . once established it is a formidable adversary. It has a clever propagation strategy that enlists the assistance of native birds to disperse its seed. (Also) the plant’s amazing immunity to native pests and local climatic conditions means that the Brazilian Pepper has the potential to completely overrun an area if it is not kept in check.”

Which is exactly what is happening on the former citrus farm that borders the Wild Horse Preserve. It is rapidly filling with the trees, and the horses’ mini pastures are often almost half full of the trees. One valley on the Preserve is about 1/3 covered with the trees. We have begun marking and treating trees in the area. But all along our two mile western border with the farm we are finding more of the trees, and some have even moved as far east as the main road through the Preserve. We are limited in our ability to work on the trees due to limited manpower. We continue to treat or uproot trees whenever there is a bit of spare time from the nearly continual effort to keep the five mile electric fence line weed free.

Six fires have been seen on the farm in the last month, we've been fortunate that winds have shifted, there have been heavy dews and occasional rains that have kept the fires away from us so far.

We are trying to find a three bottom farm plow for our tractor, with a three point hitch. We're hoping to locate one in Florida to avoid long distance shipping. We will then have to raise money for it. The plow will help us clear the old logging roads as fire breaks and can be used to clear bush from the leading edge of a fire

We are also looking locally for a pair of trailers with 100 gallon water tanks on them. A water pump will be attached to each trailer so that while one trailer is at a fire site the other is being filled.

The horses remain sleek and healthy and even though they have grown winter coats they still shine. We are hoping that in January we will be able to move ahead our plans to start finding out why there have been no successful births.

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