ATC 2018 Annual Business Meeting

The 2018 Annual Business Meeting of Amelia Tree Conservancy (ATC) was held on November 8 at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club. ATC has achieved several milestones this year that were cause for celebration: 1) Effective July 1, ATC incorporated as a not-for-profit in Florida and has acquired its own 501(c)3 status. Thus, it is no longer a part of NFLT, although we hope to partner with them on efforts to conserve land. 2) ATC is completing the fifth year of its effort to conserve the maritime forest canopy on Amelia Island. 3) ATC also completed its first video, which will soon be posted to our website, “The Secret Life of Trees” features Dr. Munsell McPhillips presenting a post-Irma analysis of our unique Amelia Island maritime forest environment. Dr. McPhillips, a biomedical engineer with a specialization in biomaterials, has analyzed and repaired ecological systems around the world. Live showings with Dr. McPhillips and Chris Hestand, our videographer, will be scheduled soon.

Following a review of the purposes of ATC, activities of the organization during 2018 and ATC finances, featured speaker, Pep Fuller spoke on the importance of maintaining and expanding our canopy in the context of global warming and sea level rise. Mr. Fuller is a retired Federal Senior Executive who worked for the EPA and in the Executive Office of the President under Presidents Reagan and Bush. Mr. Fuller was also a principal EPA negotiator for two global environmental treaties as well as the creation of the WTO and NAFTA.

Each year, ATC celebrates individuals and organizations that have contributed to preserving our canopy. This year, the ATC Award for extraordinary service to our canopy or the organization was awarded to the following individuals: Taco Pope, Director of the Nassau County Department of Planning and Economic Opportunity, for his efforts to protect canopy and improve the sustainability of Nassau County; Mike Manzie of Manzie & Drake for their story map of extraordinary trees on and near Amelia Island and their 2009 tree contest; Harry Weisenborn for the GIS work that laid a foundation for the ATC recommendations for land conservation in Fernandina Beach; and Samantha Hoskins for creating and managing ATC’s Instagram account and feed for our website Gallery page. The Voice of the Island Awardfor speaking out for the environment of the island orally, in writing or through photography was presented to the following individuals: Julie Ferreira for many years of speaking out orally and in writing for a safe and sustainable environment; Betsie Huben for speaking out for the environment orally and in writing in support of canopy preservation, land conservation and responsible, sustainable development; and Steve Leimberg, whose photography has sensitized the community to the beauty, complexity and character of the birds, trees, etc. in our environment.

ATC at the AIPCA Grand Opening of the Sunken Forest

On February 22, 2018 the Amelia Island Plantation Community Association held a ribbon cutting for the Grand Opening of the Sunken Forest. ATC was invited to provide “chats” on the maritime forest for those touring the Sunken Forest. After a number of years of disrepair, the Sunken Forest has now been redesigned in a very environmentally sensitive way and reopened to residents and guests. It provides an intimate glimpse into the world of the maritime forest.

The Sunken Forest is actually a swale behind the first major dune line, a protected area in which Live Oaks and understory plants like Yaupon Holly have thrived. We can see how the trees have been shaped by the wind and salt over the years. In fact, on the edges of this small forest, we can see where Irma removed foliage, while the sheltered area beneath the trees remained unharmed. A boardwalk with stairs allows us to walk through this swale and up to a dramatic outlook over the beach and ocean. There are several areas where the boardwalk is lined with benches—lovely places for contemplation and communing with the forest.

For the excellent restoration of this sample of maritime forest, we owe particular thanks to Carol Simon, Jim O’Malley, Geoff Clear, Larry Jones, Frank Adams, Jane Sandhaus Packer, Candace Bridgewater, and the Castle-AIPCA Management Company.

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