Sunday, February 24, 2008

media release- Camp Bayou

Media contact: Dolly Cummings
phone: 813-363-5438

Day for the Bay at Camp Bayou

On February 23, volunteers from the Tampa Bay Estuary Program's "Give a Day for the Bay", as well as Camp Bayou committee members and the current Florida Master Naturalist Program's class, spent a cloudy Saturday morning helping to complete a few tasks at Camp Bayou. This included counting gopher tortoise burrows, trimming trails and picking up a dump truck load of trash!

A prescribed burn this past fall provided an opportunity for volunteers to scout through the pine flatwoods, that normally are covered by a bristly layer of saw palmettos, to find and document gopher tortoise burrows in the upland area of the preserve. Two hundred and forty three burrows were noted, of which, almost one quarter (60 burrows) show signs of current use by gopher tortoises. Since gopher tortoises in Florida are a threatened species, this is great news! If you are interested in learning more about this 'keystone' creature, visit .

Dolly Cummings, volunteer director of programs at Camp Bayou said, "Trash was collected from areas that were hidden remnants of the old RV park, uncovered by the recent burn. Of course, lots of more recent trash, left by folks who don't seem to care about protecting our watershed, was hauled away as well."

The three main trails were checked for trash and trimmed to ensure an easy trek through the preserve. This cleanup was also part of Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful's Adopt a Road program. For more on this program visit

Volunteers enjoyed a thank you lunch and t-shirts courtesy of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program and a well-deserved rest from a hard morning's labors. For more about the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, visit .

For more information and to find out about future events at Camp Bayou, visit or email To learn more about the Florida Master Naturalist Program, visit

Camp Bayou is a partnership between the Ruskin Community Development Foundation, Inc. and Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation. Camp Bayou is located 3 miles south of SR 674 at the end of 24th St SE in Ruskin and is open Thursday- Saturday, 9am- 2pm.


Pictures by Dolly Cummings
More photos available at
Photo 10: George Shambaugh of Sun City Center and Becki Stafford of Ruskin enter the GPS coordinates of a gopher tortoise burrow on a data sheet
photo 27: Lots of volunteers were needed to load the trash into a dump truck provided by Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation

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