News from the Green Horizon

March 18 | Polk County’s Environmental Lands Program Needs Your Help!

Lands protected through the ELP are critical to protection of open spaces and the mosaic of plant and animal species that depend on them.

The 20-year authorization for the .2 mills of ad-valorem tax that Polk voters approved in 1994 for environmental lands is set to expire this year. The County Commission is planning to shift those tax dollars to transportation and Parks and Recreation to make up for funding shortfalls in those areas.

The Polk County Commissioners and County Manager need to hear from you that this important program should be continued. The hugely successful Environmental Lands Program (ELP) has purchased 26,000 acres over the last 20 years, with 72% of the cost funded by outside agencies via partnerships and grants.

The program manages 18,000 acres including 51 miles of trails. The ELP also operates Polk’s Nature Discovery Center at the Circle B-Bar Reserve. Hundreds of groups use the Center, and thousands of students have participated in guided educational programs there.

Elimination of the Environmental Lands funding stream means that Polk County will only be able to maintain existing environmental lands and facilities.

  • There will be no new purchases of lands or conservation easements.
  • There will be no facility enhancements.
  • The Habitat Conservation Plan that would serve to streamline development applications, while conserving threatened and endangered species and the ecosystems they depend on, will not be completed or implemented.
  • There will be no dedicated funding source to leverage funds from Amendment 1 and grant programs.

Please write, call or email Board members and the County Manager using the addresses and numbers listed below.

Polk County Board of County Commissioners
Drawer BC01
P.O. Box 9005
Bartow, Florida 33831-9005

George Lindsey, III, Chairman, District 1
(863) 534-6450

Melony M. Bell, District 2
(863) 534-6434

Edwin V. Smith, District 3
(863) 534-6050

R. Todd Dantzler, District 4
(863) 534-6422

John E. Hall, Vice Chair, District 5
(863) 534-6049

Jim Freeman, County Manager
(863) 534-6444


March 15 | Green Horizon Land Trust 2015 Annual Dinner

Our 2015 annual membership meeting and dinner at Bok Tower Garden celebrated our appreciation for Florida's open spaces. Twenty of the 80 guests joined Green Horizon for the 4 p.m. hike to view the areas surrounding Bok Tower Gardens preserved through conservation programs of the Green Horizon and the Florida's Community Trust (FCT) partnership.

The smooth jazz sounds of the Changes Jazz Duo were enjoyed by everyone as they gathered in the reception area on the Blue Palmetto Cafe's patio before dinner. Chairman David Price opened the dinner meeting by thanking the sponsors: AMEC, Mosaic, Duke Energy and Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program. David continued by sharing Green Horizon's accomplishments for 2014 and goals for 2015.

Among the evening’s highlights was the presentation of The Blazing Star Award, honoring significant contributions to the preservation of environmentally-sensitive lands or environmental education. The 2015 recipient is Myra Zilahy, native of Babson Park, one of the founders of Green Horizon Land Trust, and past president of Defenders of Crooked Lake. For more about Blazing Star awards and their recipients, visit the Awards page.

Thee dinner program on "Citrus Greening" featured Dr. Harold Browning, the Chief Operations Officer of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, a non-profit Direct Service Organization of the University of Florida. The annual meeting closed after the silent auction items were awarded and the raffle ticket winners were announced. We hope to see everyone in 2016 at Bok on Sunday, March 13!

September 27 |New Signs Welcome Public to Lewis Arboretum and Parrott Trail

This summer Green Horizon Land Trust installed signs at Lewis Arboretum along Overlook Drive, Winter Haven, FL. The signs help the public locate the property, park their cars and find the trail.

The signs were donated by Talbot Lewis, who also donated the 42-acre parcel to Green Horizon Land Trust in March, 2011. The "arboretum," named in honor of Talbot's son, Michael V. Lewis, contains a mix of native and exotic ornamental plants reflecting Polk County's horticultural heritage. On February 18, 2013, the gates opened for the public. The property now hosts a community park with a 1.4 mile trail named in honor of Luther Parrott, past executive director of Green Horizon, complete with strategically placed benches along the trail.

Read more about it here.


 December 19 | Longleaf Pine Tree Planting at Pedersen Preserve

Pine Planting 2013.12Four thousand (4,000) longleaf pine trees were planted at Pedersen Preserve (S. Scenic Highway 17, Dundee, FL) the morning of Thursday, December 19, 2013 as part of the planned pine tree restoration project on five (5) acres of old citrus grove fronting Hwy. 17. 

This planting (and holiday season) kicked off our Plant - A - Tree Gift Certificate fundraiser. For each Certificate purchased, a longleaf pine tree will be planted at Pedersen Preserve, Dundee, FL, on behalf of the recipient.  Each tree may be purchased for $10.  Gift recipients will receive a Plant - A – Tree Certificate and map with directions to Pedersen Preserve to enable them to visit the pine forest, hike the trails and enjoy the preserve now and into the future as their pine tree (and the pine forest) grows.  Plant - A - Tree Gift Certificates are available year round for special events, birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.

Plant – A – Tree Certificates are made possible through Green Horizon Land Trust’s, Plant – A – Tree Certificate Program. Plant – A – Tree is a local, central Florida program providing families, schools, and communities with fun, hands-on opportunities to plant trees or simply gift trees that will be planted on the recipients behalf. All trees will be planted in Central Florida and are native species that help protect and restore natural areas that provide habitat for wildlife.  


September 28 | National Public Lands Day

Volunteers from one Girl Scout Troop and one Brownie Troop participated in trail maintenance activities at Pedersen Preserve (S. Scenic Highway 17, Dundee, FL) the morning of Saturday, September 28, 2013.  Thank you!




July 27 | Ridge Ranger's Melaleuca Tree Removal Workday

Invasive exotic Melaleuca trees were cut and treated with herbicide along the shoreline of Lake Annie at Pedersen Preserve (S. Scenic Highway 17, Dundee, FL) the morning of Saturday, July 27, 2013.  Thank you to the more than one dozen Ridge Ranger volunteers who worked to make this day a success! 






March 5 | Bok Gardens Nature Trail Opens Onto Pine Land Preserve

At 9:00 am on March 1, 2013, David Price, President of Bok Tower Gardens (also President of Green Horizon Land Trust), presided over the ribbon cutting that opened a 1.5 mile trail that winds through open lands surrounding Bok Tower Gardens. The preserve with its hiking trails, educational and interpretive signage, picnic shelters, recreational opportunities, and restoration work is the product of a partnership between Green Horizon Land Trust and Bok Tower Gardens, with the help and support of many other organizations. Read more....

February 23 | Grand Opening of Michael V. Lewis Arboretum and Parrott Trail

More than 40 hikers joined us in celebrating the culmination of work to provide public access to this unique 42 acres of Florida Heritage in February.  It's never too late to walk the trails and explore the largest collection of palms you'll encounter in central Florida. This hidden treasure is now protected forever due to the generosity of Tal Lewis who donated the Polk county landscape he had shaped and tended for over forty years... more

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