News Releases

Volunteers needed on National Public Lands Day

News Release

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Media contact: Gary Morse, 863-648-3852

In celebration of National Public Lands Day on Sept. 29, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Ridge Rangers Program is looking for volunteers to help clear invasive plants from five spots along the Lake Wales Ridge. Those volunteering will receive a free pass to any state park and a free pass to Bok Tower Gardens (exceptions apply as noted on the passes).

Removal of invasive plants on Saturday, Sept. 29 is from 9 a.m. to noon at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, The Nature Conservancy’s Tiger Creek Preserve near Babson Park, Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring and Archbold Biological Station in Lake Placid. At Hilochee Wildlife Management Area in Clermont, volunteers are needed from noon to 4 p.m.

“Invasive plants tend to crowd out native plants that provide high quality food and cover for wildlife,” said Bill Parken, FWC Ridge Rangers coordinator. “Your aid in removing these harmful plants helps ensure the health of the unique ecosystem, which exists nowhere else on Earth except the Lake Wales Ridge.”

The Lake Wales Ridge is an ancient sand ridge that runs from north of Clermont, south beyond Lake Placid and was once the only part of peninsular Florida not covered by oceans. Due to this ancient island’s isolation, the ridge developed a unique ecosystem of plants and wildlife that survives to this day.

Ridge Rangers are FWC volunteers who work with a number of conservation agencies and nongovernment organizations on and near the Lake Wales Ridge to help restore wildlife habitat.

To sign up for National Public Lands Day events on the Lake Wales Ridge, or for more information about Ridge Rangers, go to or contact Bill Parken at or at 863-699-3742.

FWC Facts:
The $2.7 billion that people spend to view wildlife in Florida is more than double the value of the state’s annual orange harvest.

Learn More at AskFWC