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Jekyll Island Authority and Volunteer Groups to Participate in the 16th Annual National Public Lands Day


September 24, 2009, Jekyll Island, Ga., - On September 26,the Jekyll Island Authority and volunteers with the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island and other groups will participate in National Public Lands Day, the largest cleanup and fix-up of America’s public lands. Owned by the state of Georgia and managed by the Jekyll Island Authority, Jekyll Island has become renowned for preservation and conservation of the island’s cultural and natural resources. National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance the public lands Americans enjoy. In 2008, 120,000 volunteers built trails and bridges, removed trash and invasive plants, and planted over 1.6 million trees. On Saturday, volunteers working with the Jekyll Island Authority Roads & Grounds crews will focus on the removal of invasive plant species.

“Jekyll Island belongs to us all, and volunteer support groups are absolutely vital to our success,” stated Jones Hooks, Jekyll Island Authority Executive Director. “We really appreciate those willing to give of their time, get their hands dirty and help improve the island.”

There are currently fourteen volunteers committed to participate on Saturday; this includes both residents and non-residents of the Island. Throughout the day volunteers will be working to remove “tamarisk,” a pink and white flower that grows on shrubs. Although the flower may not seem harmful, it can replace or displace native woody species and its stems can change landscapes. Additionally, it is a poor food resource for aquatic consumers.

“We’ll be spending the day working to remove the invasive species tamarisk, which competes with native species on the south end of Jekyll for resources such as water and space,” said Babs McDonald, social scientist and chair of the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island.

By state law, 65% of Jekyll Island must remain in a natural state, providing great diversity in ecological plant communities. The Jekyll Island Authority through its conservation planning initiative is beginning to actively manage these areas in order to protect them. If allowed to flourish, invasive exotic plant species will quickly crowd out native plant species and upset the delicate balance of these fragile ecosystems.

“We are losing the native Red Bay tree, which is a dominant native plant species,” explained Cliff Gawron, Landscape Superintendent with the Jekyll Island Authority. “This gives an opening for invasive exotics to take over if allowed to do so. Removal will help keep things in balance.”

Volunteers will meet at the public boat ramp at the south end of Jekyll Island at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Anyone who would like to volunteer is encouraged to!



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 national public lands day
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