Nov. 24, 2020
Community Partnership Adds Native Trees and Plants for Birds at Bruce Beach
More than 100 volunteers gathered at Bruce Beach on Saturday, Nov. 21 to plant trees and a variety of plants for native and migratory birds, marking the first steps toward creating a bird-friendly environment as the redevelopment of Bruce Beach begins to take shape.
The tree planting was completed as part of “Native Trees and Plants for Native and Migratory Birds at Bruce Beach," a partnership between the Francis M. Weston Audubon Society, the University of West Florida, the City of Pensacola government and City Council. Funding partners for the project include Gulf Power Foundation ($2,500.00), Ascend Performance Materials ($500.00) and Audubon Florida’s “Plants For Birds.”
Carefully integrated with the city’s phase 1 development plan for Bruce Beach, FMWAS’ Phase 1 was rapidly moved forward in coordination with the city, SCAPE and Community Redevelopment Agency in order to plant three groves of native trees and their associated tiered-understory of smaller native trees, shrubs, bushes and ground covers on the upper bank slope of the Washerwoman Creek Basin at Bruce Beach.
"I was glad to be able to join members of City Council and volunteers Saturday to plant the last two trees in phase 1 of this project," Mayor Grover Robinson said. "The community support for this project is overwhelming already, which is a testament to the public's interest in enhancing our waterfront assets like Bruce Beach. I look forward to continuing to preserve and expand access to Pensacola's waterfront through initiatives like this."
City Council and Community Redevelopment Agency approved a Memorandum of Understanding between the Francis M. Weston Audubon Society and the City of Pensacola CRA for the Bruce Beach native trees and vegetation planting, along with maintenance of the plants.
Bruce Beach was selected for this project largely because it is one of the last undeveloped stretches of urban Gulf Coastal lowlands habitat on the Gulf Coast, making it an ideal habitat for local and migratory birds.
The shrubs and trees to be planted at Bruce Beach through the project include:
- Grove One: Live Oak/Sand Oak copse of at least 10 trees augmented by at least three Chickasaw Plums and three wax myrtles and more than 50 native shrubs, perennials and self-seeding annuals including, rusty lyonia, inkberry, summer sweet, possum haw, saw palmetto, yaupon holly and winged sumac.
- Grove Two: Native Red Mulberry/Persimmon Grove containing at least 12 trees and an understory consisting of 15 or more oak hydrangea shrubs, 10 or more American Beautyberry shrubs and ten or more sweet shrubs and a meadow of native milkweed tone planted in the spring.
- Grove Three: Bald Cypress cluster of at least five trees, as well as, three o Dahoon Holly, Sweet Bay Magnolia, wax myrtle trees and at least 10 swamp lilies, five scarlet hibiscus, two swamp milkweeds, and ample seeds for standing cypress and swamp sunflower and at least 10 frog fruit plants to start ground cover. These plants were sourced for 7 Pines Native Plant Nursery, a certified Florida Native Plant Nursery.
When established, these groves will start seasonally contributing shelter, food and habitat for over 80 different species of birds at Bruce Beach. When the groves mature and other groves are planted, that number could double.
The selection for the native trees and plants for native and migratory birds at Bruce Beach was made in close consultation with Longleaf Pine Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, Escambia County Master Gardeners and experts from UWF and University of Florida. The mix of plants were designed to replicate what happens in nature, taking into account a long-term view.
“I am most grateful to all of our hardworking and diligent volunteers who planted, watered, mulched and fenced 150 keystone native trees and their typical multi-tiered understory able to support at least 80 species of native and migratory birds and the caterpillars they need to raise their young and thrive,” said Michael Brower, president, Francis M. Weston Audubon Society. “We also think it’s important to applaud Mayor Robinson’s and the City Council’s long-held commitment to the value of planting keystone native trees like Live Oaks, Sand Live Oaks, Bald Cypress and Red Mulberry trees in Pensacola’s city parks.”
Photos courtesy of Cindy Coster and Michael Brower