TREES

Palm Beach Daily News - - TODAY -

around the trunks of such mag­nif­i­cent trees,” Palm Beacher Cam­pion Platt, a lo­cal ar­chi­tect who serves on the Audubon Is­lands Sanc­tu­ary Com­mit­tee, said in a news re­lease. “It seemed such a waste; we knew we had to save them.”

As part of the “res­cue mis­sion,” the team moved green but­ton­woods, sea grapes, sa­bal palms, wild olives and lim­ber ca­pers. The first tree moved was a na­tive sa­bal palm more than 30 feet tall, the group said.

“We thought it was ironic that they were go­ing to cut down these beau­ti­ful trees right next to where we were re­plant­ing our trop­i­cal is­land sanc­tu­ary, fea­tur­ing many of the same trees,” said res­i­dent Katie Car­pen­ter, a lo­cal film­maker who also works on the is­land restoration pro­ject. “We just knew we had to find a way to res­cue them and put them into our sanc­tu­ary. Be­cause they are ma­ture trees, they will pro­vide good shade and sta­bil­ity to the up­land of the is­land.”

Car­pen­ter said this week that Bing­ham Is­land saw only a few small trees go down due to Irma, and the big trans­plants from the cause­way were OK. How­ever, there is quite a bit of de­bris, and Cub Scouts are help­ing do cleanup on the is­land, she said.

The group be­gan the Audubon Is­lands restoration pro­ject last year. The six is­lands — Bing­ham Is­land is the largest — were leased to Audubon in 1942 by the Bing­ham, Bolton and Blos­som fam­i­lies of Palm Beach to main­tain as a wildlife sanc­tu­ary. The lease ex­tends to 2041.

Last year, Bing­ham Is­land was a pop­u­lar ral­ly­ing spot for demon­stra­tors and setup lo­ca­tion for tele­vi­sion crews dur­ing Pres­i­dent Donald Trump’s fre­quent vis­its to Mar-a-Lago.

Long be­fore Trump chose his club as his “win­ter White House,” Eric Draper, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Audubon Florida, said the is­lands were fre­quently vis­ited by herons, egrets and pel­i­cans. Exotic in­va­sive plants and trees have “in­fested” the is­lands and dam­aged bird habi­tat over the past sev­eral decades, he said.

“This is a win for na­ture and for the lo­cal vol­un­teers,” Draper said of the res­cue. “We are grate­ful to the Florida De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion and to the town of Palm Beach for al­low­ing the restoration work and re­lo­cat­ing these beau­ti­ful trees.”

Car­pen­ter said it costs about $45,000 to re­lo­cate the trees and re­move in­va­sive species in­side the sanc­tu­ary to make room for the trees. Audubon is pay­ing for the pro­ject through a grant from the Cedar Hill Foun­da­tion in Chicago and through pri­vate do­na­tions.

“FDOT has been in­cred­i­ble,” Car­pen­ter said. “Their con­trac­tors have sup­ported us all along the way. Any time they run into some na­tive species they have to cut, they call us to see if we want them first.”

Pho­tos cour­tesy Katie Car­pen­ter

Seen in Au­gust, the re­planted sa­bal palms in the Audubon Is­lands Sanc­tu­ary are lush with new growth.

The newly re­planted sa­bal palms in the Audubon sanc­tu­ary on Bing­ham Is­land are seen stripped down and propped up in June.

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