The Tall Timbers Land Conservancy educates about conserving the region at several events

While the focus of our work at the Tall Timbers Land Conservancy (TTLC) is on land conservation, land use planning, and advocacy, we are also involved in efforts to educate the public about the importance of the Red Hills region and why it is deserving of protection. Usually these opportunities are spread throughout the year. This year however, staff were involved in several high profile events in just one week. 

On October 13, the 5th annual Pine Run 20K took place at Tall Timbers. More than 200 runners set out on the challenging 12.4 mile course with 192 eventually finishing the event. This race provided a rare opportunity for a small segment of the public to see Tall Timbers in a way that few people do. Both Tall Timbers and the Gulf Winds Track Club, the race sponsor, benefit from the relationship we have developed. The Pine Run 20K has become one of the most popular long distance trail races sponsored by Gulf Winds. Tall Timbers meanwhile has benefitted from excellent media attention and networking opportunities, gained additional members, and received annual financial contributions from Gulf Winds Track Club. 

Pine Run

October 14, the day after the Pine Run 20K, was the biennial Tall Timbers Open House. TTLC Planning Coordinator Neil Fleckenstein served as wagon tour wrangler, coordinating 21 wagon tours of Tall Timbers for more than 400 people. Wagon tour interpreters extraordinaire included Shane Wellendorf, Eric Staller, Kim Sash, Bud Bostick and Dr. Christine Ambrose discussing the history of Tall Timbers and explaining why the Red Hills is such a unique landscape. The Open House was a great opportunity to educate the public about the importance of conserving the Red Hills.

On October 18, the LeRoy Collins Library in downtown Tallahassee was the scene for a completely different kind of educational event. Planning Coordinator Neil Fleckenstein coordinated a candidates’ forum attended by nearly all local and state candidates running for office in Leon County. The forum was co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Tallahassee and the Big Bend Environmental Forum, a volunteer organization consisting of 17 environmental and conservation organizations in the Florida Big Bend. 

More than 255 people attended the October 18 forum and an earlier event held in July. These events provided a great opportunity for Tall Timbers staff to interact with all of the candidates seeking local and state office and a venue to ask the candidates tough questions about the environment and growth management, two issues that are often overlooked in other candidate’ events. Given our advocacy work on behalf of the Red Hills region, our efforts coordinating these two candidates’ forums was time well invested. 

The final event of the week was the Ochlockonee River Clean-up, which has been coordinated by TTLC planning staff for the past 8 years. This annual event is one of the largest volunteer opportunities in Thomas County. More than 70 volunteers helped this year providing us with a great chance to talk about the importance of protecting water quality in the Red Hills. Volunteers over the years in this event have helped remove more than 40,000 pounds of trash from the Ochlockonee River floodplain, a key natural resource in the Red Hills and a designated Outstanding Florida Waterbody. 

Ochlockonee River Clean-up recyclables   Ochlockonee River Clean-up   

At left, recyclables collected at the Ochlockonee River Clean-up; at right, Tall Timbers Conservation Coordinator Shane Wellendorf with the biggest catch of the day, a 16-foot boat.

Over the past week, all members of the Tall Timbers Land Conservancy played a vital role in sharing with the public our passion for protecting the Red Hills. These efforts, while secondary to our focus on conserving and protecting the Red Hills, are critical for educating the public and gaining their support for the important work we do every day. 

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