Erin Daugherty

The Florida Southern College Nature Enthusiasts Club took part in Circle B Bar Reserve’s service project Saturday.

Florida Southern students worked alongside Circle B and the Sierra Club to plant 1,000 bald cypress and 175 live oak trees. All the trees were planted in just a few hours Saturday morning.

One of the main things that Circle B is working toward is restoring rural areas to their original states.

Circle B has been in the process of restoring its land to its original hydrologic function since 2005.

Records show that prior to being a reserve, the land of Circle B was used as pasture for cows.

The planting this year was done where a cypress dome was before it had been converted into a pasture.

Circle B is home to some of the most impressive bird activity in Polk County and features oak hammocks, freshwater marshes, hardwood swamps and the lakeshore.

The Sierra Club has been working with Circle B and other volunteers for the last 10 years to continue to maintain and restore these environments.

When humans disturb natural habitats, it allows invasive species to grow and take over more easily.

In order to work towards getting these natural areas restored, native trees need to be planted and invasive species need to be removed.

Having live oak trees made this tree planting especially exciting.

“The weather this year gave me a more hopeful outlook of the trees actually surviving, which makes it more fun to plant,” said Leyna Stemle, president of the Nature Enthusiasts club. “Having live oaks was really exciting because you know it will survive and grow.”

In the past, only about 10 Florida Southern students showed up to help planting events such as this one.

This year there was an improvement with 16 people showing up.

“I’ve spent a lot of time at Circle B,” said Stemle. “I did my thesis research out here and got roped into a lot of other activities.” This was Stemle’s third time planting trees, but another popular event that Circle B Reserve offers is one centered around pulling out invasive species in order to help protect the natural environment.

It is held every Wednesday at 8:15 a.m. and anyone is welcome to join.

Stemle has helped plan multiple invasive species removal activities for the Nature Enthusiasts club, as well having a booth at the kids event “Water Wings and Wild Things” for two consecutive years.

Some future events to look out for are going to the Tampa power plant to learn about manatees, a trip to the recycling center and more service events at local parks such as The Green Swamp and Fort Fraiser Trail.

Circle B is a great place to get involved with other organizations and events.

Other than partnering with the Sierra Club, the Native Plant Society also holds meetings there.

More information is available at the Nature Enthusiast’s club Facebook page and on Circle B’s official website.

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