On March 19th, early Saturday morning members of the Orlando Area Rowing Society (OARS) took time to volunteer and work with Orange County Environmental Protection to perform some much needed maintenance on Egret Island, or more commonly called Bird Island in Windermere on Lake Butler.
Under the supervision of Sergio Duarte of Orange County Environmental Protection, volunteers broke into three groups who would either pick up debris, remove invasive growth or plant new vegetation. It was a rare opportunity to legally go onto the island which is a protected bird sanctuary.
Joining the group was Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn who thanked the group for their effort and took time to see the island first hand. "I was stunned to see the amount of garbage that people had thrown on to the island and the total disrespect for the environment," Bruhn said. Container after container were filled with bottles, cans, food packaging and even diapers.
Volunteers also planted cypress trees and Duarte showed the group how many of the cypress trees are dying and hopefully the new young cypress will be able to take root and replace the shoreline vegetation.
The island was also filled with bottlebrush trees, many of which were in full bloom. And although they are lovely, they are considered invasive on the island and were removed.
The OARS volunteers are greeted by the Mayor as they prepare to go to the island.
Clearing and planting of cypress and native vegetation took place on the island shores.
Sadly, there were large amounts of glass and plastic bottles, cans and even nastier refuse.
Although they are lovely to look at, bottlebrush trees are considered invasive and are growing throughout the island.