Florida Division Sets Direction for 2002

by Barry Walsh

A dozen leaders of the SESAF Florida Division gathered at the Mizell Meeting House in Hilliard (west of Jacksonville), on January 29-30 to network and strategize. The Meeting House, operated by Smurfit-Stone Container Corp., is located on the historic Mizell tract, with the original 19th century farmhouse standing proud in the back woods. Smurfit-Stone built the Meeting House for corporate leadership and makes it available to forestry groups.

Retreat participants (left to right) Tom Mastin, Joe Wolf, Charlie Houder, Greg Driskell, Richard Shelfer,
Doug Voltolina (back row), John Bridges, Jeff Main, Carol Daughtery, and Scott Sagar. Photo by Barry Walsh

Designed in the Old Florida style, the Meeting House has wood siding and a metal roof that overhangs and shades a screened front porch with wood swings and rockers. The Living Room has paneled walls, brick fireplace, seating around a TV, wall-mounted wildlife from the site, and a good-sized conference table. A well-equipped kitchen, two bunk rooms and baths, a large meeting room with audio-visual equipment, and a cookout area on the lawn provide rustic accommodations. Charlie Houder, Florida Division Chair, organized the retreat to bring together the Executive Committee (officers and chapter chairs) and committee chairs from throughout the Peninsula State. On the first afternoon, the group received a 2001 Report sent by Past Chair John Holzaepfel and heard committee reports.

Tom Gilpin, History & Archives, gave an update on the Division’s historic documents, 14 boxes of them, stored at the University of Florida Smathers Library. He encouraged SAF members, especially retired members, to donate printed material about SAF in Florida. Ed Barnard sent a progress report on a project to obtain a roadside historical marker for Putnam Lodge, built of pecky cypress by the Putnam Lumber Company, whose Florida sawmill was once the largest in the world. The Foresters Fund has provided a $500 grant for a marker at the Lodge, which is being restored by its current owner as a bed and breakfast. Barnard’s report also described SAF participation on a Division of Forestry Steering Committee to publish a history of Florida forests, based on a 1960s manuscript by reporter Baynard Kendrick.

John Bridges reported on exhibitors and sponsors for the Spring Symposium to be held this year in April at Jekyll Island with the Georgia SAF Division and other cosponsors. Since exhibitors and sponsors are the Florida Division’s main fundraiser, he encouraged support of the Symposium on Slash Pines, the first SAF meeting devoted to slash pine research in 20 years.

Barry Walsh, Communications, invited input for an email directory of Florida media contacts to receive press releases. Her committee (one member from each chapter) will interview Golden Members for press releases to be sent to their hometown newspapers and posted on the website (www.flsaf.org) edited by Houder. Edwin Dew of Palatka is Florida’s Golden Member for 2002.

Tom Mastin, Policy Chair, is gathering information on National SAF policy positions for use in Florida and discussed suggestions for a Legislative Tour of managed forestland.

The next morning opened with reports on Chapter strategic plans. Carol Daughtery, Panhandle (Pensacola), discussed plans to hold meetings at various locations to increase attendance, including an International Paper tour and a program on Endangered Species Enforcement. Richard Shelfer, Big Bend (Tallahassee), described plans for participation in a longleaf pine postage stamp release, a forestry exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Sciences, a Habitat for Humanity project, and construction of a forest trail at a local school. Joe Wolf, Suwannee (Gainesville), asked for comments on a SAF History Display being designed for the University of Florida Learning Center at Austin Cary Research Forest in Gainesville and presented two drafts. He described an Adopt a Highway project, a Dinner in the Woods held at Austin Cary for teachers, and programs on Forest Certification and Conservation Easements. Greg Driskell, St. Johns (Jacksonville), discussed plans for programs involving Project Learning Tree and the Florida Trail Association. Doug Voltolina, Caribbean (Tampa-Orlando-Melbourne), reported another successful Walk in the Forest held at Lake George for schoolteachers. Houder reported on the status of the Subtropical Chapter (Miami-Puerto Rico) and the University of Florida Student Chapter.

A business meeting followed, with Jeff Main, Secretary-Treasurer, presenting minutes and a well-received financial report. The Executive Committee approved bylaws as amended to establish a Florida Foresters Hall of Fame, intended as the highest honor and recognition of professional service by SAF members in the state. Dr. Wayne Smith, Director of the UF School of Forest Resources and Conservation, has agreed to find a suitable location to display the plaques of those honored. The 430 SAF members in Florida will receive mail ballots for the Hall of Fame Bylaws and for Amendments to the Bylaws of the Division, now in its seventh year as part of SESAF.