In mid January I welcomed my father to Turks and Caicos for his first post retirement extended winter holiday. With an unprecedented six weeks to spend we managed to see most of Providenciales, and several highlights of North Caicos and Middle Caicos as well. During the majority of our excursions, we accomplished a great deal of Rubbish Running, like the below pictured afternoon spent at South Bluff.
I actually had to retire my year and a half old trusty, dusty Rubbish Runners bag due to a broken handle from all of our combined garbage collection from beaches and roads, bushes and back alleys. I estimate that bag carried an average of 5-10 pounds of trash per day, five to six days a week, for approximately 18 months. What a bag right!? Must have been very strong to carry everything from heavy metals and glass bottles, to aluminum and steel cans, to sand covered Styrofoam, shoes, and food packaging. In actuality that plastic bag was designed for a one time, SINGLE use. If you live on island, you most likely have one of these plastic bags in your possession and are familiar with the blue and yellow KISCHO logo. Please put these bags to good use! Don't throw them away, as you have just read these bags have a lot of life to give, far more endurance than some of the "environmentally friendly" options being sold at the local grocery stores. These bags make excellent reusable shopping bags. Here is my brand new bag with it's inaugural Rubbish Run load.
On my father's last day, outfitted with large bags to collect trash, we traveled to Northwest Point meaning to snorkel but the large swell dictated we go elsewhere. On our way to Coral Gardens we stopped by the Lower Bight Childrens Park and Botanical Garden. I had last visited the garden at the invasive-species-workshop nearly a year ago and was heavily disappointed to see the a further deterioration versus improvement, as we discussed was needed at that point in time. Invasives like cow bush and causarina were sprinkled in every direction and thick coats of love vine blanketed the majority of the grounds. Signage indicated to species long dead or in some cases different species that had taken over. This park is one of the only only free, open to the public, environmental educational resources we have in the Turks and Caicos. It is extremely important that it is maintained properly for it sends the very valuable message to locals and visitors alike; to discover, appreciate, and protect our rare eco-system.
While perusing the grounds the park warden came over explained that the garden had been cut off from water through financial burden and apologized for its condition stating that next year it would be better. I tried explaining that these species are indigenous and should be well adapted to surviving only off the water that Mother Nature gives, no irrigation system needed. The problem is that the little nourishment they are receiving is being robbed by the species that should not be here. One thing I learned from the wondrous-west-indian-wetlands-workshop, it is far better to show then to tell!
Last Saturday, February 25th, the TCI Environmental Club along with volunteers from the Gansevoort and the DECR participated in a clean-up of the Lower Bight Park and Botanical Garden. In this way we were able to discuss and demonstrate simultaneously.
Love vine before (above) and the heaping piles of it during removal (below).
A before image (above) of the Prickly Pear cactus being strangled by love vine, which eventually kills the host species over time, and an after image below..
It is truly amazing what a small team of dedicated individuals can accomplish in five hours. The botanical garden is now freed from thousands of feet of love vine, at least fifty cow bush and more than a dozen causarinas. Dead species have been cleared away, leaving resources for fresh new species to grow. In total a dozen volunteers were able to clear this huge pile pictured behind us, a job very well done. This success would not have been possible without the involvement of the Gansevoort; special thanks to Trem Quinlan and Rob Ayer who not only fully supported the idea, but physically showed up and volunteered their efforts. Also large thanks to Eric Salamanca from the DECR for his labor, dedication, and new adoption of the park and garden! I look forward to seeing it blossom and thrive under he and his wardens care.