Hobbyist pilot flies
over row crops

Row flights follow hayfield success

Natalie Couey operates a John Deere tractor on a hayfield in Levy County in early June as The Dragonfly takes a picture.

Story, Photos and Videos
By Jeff M. Hardison © June 23, 2017 at 4:47 p.m.
Having secured the permission of the farmer who owns land where he is growing row crops, a hobbyist drone pilot filmed those crops on Friday morning (June 23).

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     Jeff M. Hardison spoke with Vince Dean on Friday because the hobbyist pilot had filmed a particular hayfield and was ready to move to the next level of hobbyist aerial photography. Peanuts and watermelons were the target film harvest sought.

In this May 26 video, a very pleasant flight with no wind influence shows a hayfield complete with pocket gopher mounds. This is when there was no activity on the field either.

In this June 23 video, there are views of watermelons and peanuts growing in rows. This is a merge from 14 launches and landings, and it is not as smooth as the May 26 hayfield view.

This high view of the hayfield shows the pocket gopher areas as little white spots.

The hobbyist pilot is seen on the hayfield.

Here is the photo strived for on Friday (June 23) – row crops!

The pilot is on the left in this picture from Friday (June 23). The Jeep is next to him. A dirt mound is on the right. Peanuts are at the top of the photo and watermelon plants are below.

This view of bee hives (white boxes on the left) from on high is interesting, and shows the drone needs to go somewhere else relatively quickly.

A close-up view of peanut plants is possible after the drone lands on them.

This is a still shot from one flight, where the camera was tilted upward to see the props. This is also in part of the video clips.

     The hobbyist had met the farmer in the past few years when he wrote about peanut harvesting, and Dean helped the journalist gather information and take photos, and a video.
     "The Dragonfly successfully launched and landed on 14 occasions Friday morning (June 23)," Hardison said during a debriefing after the hobbyist flight mission. “I had a blast, thanks to Mr. Dean letting me film on his property.”
     Hardison previously had earned the FAA license required to fly the drone as a hobbyist, and he maintains that level of federal approval to use the airways. With that in mind, Hardison follows all of the rules of the air. On this particular mission, the machine never went above 100 feet, which is far below the limit of 500 feet.
     The drone (unmanned aerial system) was always in sight when it was in the air, although it did disappear in both peanut and watermelon crops upon landing on the ground.
     Once on the target property in Levy County, the pilot just about leapt out of his skin because this was exactly the scene he had sought to capture.
     “I noticed bee hives too,” he said, “so I knew to try and direct the drone away from that area. On my first launch, that slight summer breeze did not make me feel fine – as it may have made Darrell Crofts and Jimmy Seals feel fine blowing jasmine through their minds back in 1972.”
     The pilot said the machine flew over the bee hives and landed in peanuts, which were on the other side of a barbed wire fence from the launch point.
     “I rolled on the ground to go under the barbed wire and gently walked between the rows of growing peanuts to pick up The Dragonfly,” he said.
     The wind was too strong, probably at 7 mph or so, which led to a relatively lesser-controlled flight that morning. However, the videographer obtained the shots he sought.
     “I am living the American Dream,” Hardison said. “Thanks to a friendly farmer, I was able to fly my relatively inexpensive drone and record some Florida agriculture.”
     Hardison said The Dragonfly flies on Friday, and other days. Friday flights are alright, he said.
     “I would like to own a DJI Mavik,” Hardison said. “But having a drone that flies in a breeze and is more under control – like the Mavik – might take some of the challenge out of what I accomplished with The Dragonfly today. What I did with the machine I own gives me more bragging rights than if I had a fancy-schmancy drone.”
     Hardison said he is thankful to all of the farmers like Vince Dean who put in the work required to feed Americans. He knows farmers work long hours, and endure stressful situations.
     “I appreciate Mr. Dean and all of the farmers in Florida, and elsewhere,” Hardison said. “I eat my share of peanuts, watermelon, cantaloupe, corn, green beans and other things grown on Florida farms. The next flight I want to try will be with cattle, sheep or goats.”
     Hardison said he knows some cattle, sheep and goat ranchers. There are some questions he has about flying over them.
     “The thing about cows versus peanut plants,” he said, “is that I can’t really fly my drone against even the slightest breeze. I was pushing the envelope at 7 mph this morning, and I had to let it go to thr ground several times to get my shots.
     “I eat beef,” he continued, “but I don’t want to bother a cow by landing a drone on it. Of course, I don’t want to bug sheep or goats either, but I think the ranchers will help me know how to best create the next film I seek.”
     Hardison shared a story about a couple of other living creatures whose paths he crossed on Friday morning.
     “There was one bee that came out from the hive and buzzed me repeatedly,” Hardison said. “This was a standard Florida bee. He was not an Africanized attack bee. I know he was just letting me know that I was getting a bit too close to the hive. So I got in the Jeep and moved a few feet away. The bee did not follow the Jeep. That little bee is a good worker. He did his job.”
     Another encounter was not recognized until after the film was downloaded.
     “I bring my drone in for relatively rough landings,” Hardison said. “That’s part of my style with this machine. On one landing, the unmanned aerial system was in the grass. I watched the film that showed a large red ant walk along a stick on the ground. So, I thought about the times I needed to roll under barbed wire to retrieve the flying machine that went off course a little bit. Well, no ants bit me, but I know they were in the area, because I saw one on film.”
     With this machine, the film cannot be viewed until it is downloaded to a computer – after the flight. The hobbyist pilot said he advises all flyers to always get permission before operating over an area.
     “The Florida Highway Patrol sent a note about covering a funeral event it was having in Lake City,” Hardison said. “FHP Master Sergeant William T. Bishop was a great trooper. The FHP sent me a note to not fly a drone for any filming of the funeral procession.
     “That was very thoughtful of the FHP leadership to let UAS operators know not to be rude during a funeral procession,” he continued. “If I had a DJI Mavik, then I might have been inclined to consider it. So, it is good that the FHP noted not to do that as a matter of courtesy.”
     Hardison spoke about another news opportunity he let go by the wayside on Friday.
     There were 12 members of the United States House of Representatives who were in Gainesville today (Friday, June 23). There was a potential opportunity for the media to briefly ask a couple of questions.
     “I thought about two hours of driving and dealing with traffic in Gainesville on a Friday to possibly ask a question,” Hardison said. “Weighing it all, I chose against going with the herd of other journalists on that one. Instead, I let The Dragonfly fly on Friday. Some people don’t get some things I note. ‘That eagle flies on Friday,’ is one of the lines in the lyrics of the song Stormy Monday by T-Bone Walker. It means Friday is payday.
     “There are two things my late brother Jim taught me back in the 1970s when we were putting pipe in the ground to earn a living,” Hardison continued. “Water (he used another word) does not flow uphill and payday is on Friday. That is all that matters… Of course, Jim taught me lots of other things, including that the influence of gravity on water (or the waste material that water can carry to the sewer plant), and paydays being on Friday are not really all that matters.”

Paddle 5

This is a photo of Jeff M. Hardison with the 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 paddles presented him from Keith Maynard (and family and friends) for the work by Jeff M. Hardison, Sharon Hardison and Goldy the cat Hardison and Inky the cat Hardison for helping in the Annual Wild Hog Canoe Race. Jeff is also holding the 40th anniversary shirt. 'Keith Maynard dropped off the shirt and paddle during the past week or so,' Jeff Hardison said. 'I told him that I would get Sharon to take a photo. Sharon reminded me tonight.’ Here's some trivia for HardisonInk.com followers. In this photo, is the edge of one of at least four carpet-covered cat-stands to better enable the cats to look through glass window panes. Behind the paddles in his hands are photos of Jeff Hardison at Kennedy Space Center from decades ago. Behind him and invisible from this view, too, is a 2017 photo of Jeff Hardison with retired NASA Space Shuttle Launch Director Michael D. “Mike” Leinbach. Also out of view is a relatively interesting collection of rocks. In view is Jeff Hardison’s ‘I Waved At Saturn’ certificate. There is also a picture of him with the robot from Lost In Space. A very small gold-colored alligator is on his shirt lapel. That was given to Jeff M. Hardison by a person from the University of Florida National Alumni Association or from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communication. This photo was taken in the Code Orange Office of The Ink Pad, within the four corners of the unrecorded subdivision known as Jemlands in the unincorporated part of Levy County, in the woods between Carter's Crossroads and Fowler's Bluff. It was taken on Thursday night (June 22).
Photo by Sharon Hardison © June 22, 2017 at 11:07 p.m.


Princess manners
shared in Bronson;

Magic show shared in Cross City

Levy County Public Library Youth Services Coordinator Jenny Rodgers and Assistant Jennifer Becker speak to the children before the arrival of the princesses.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © June 21, 2017 at 10:27 p.m.
The theme of “Build A Better World,” the summer reading programs in Levy County’s five different public libraries as well as in the various libraries in Dixie and Gilchrist counties, continues.

     All this week, people are seeing various princesses at Levy County libraries, and on Wednesday, people saw a magician at the Dixie County Public Library in Cross City.
     “Build A Better World” is the theme for all public libraries in Florida this summer.
     The overall theme in the programs being presented this summer in the reading program by Levy County Public Library Youth Services Coordinator Jenny Rodgers and Assistant Jennifer Becker is "Build A Better World."

Princess Rapunzel and Princess Tiana arrive at the Bronson Public Library, and they seem as excited and happy as the many children who greeted them.

Princess Tiana leans down to speak to a member of the audience as Princess Rapunzel watches.

     Performers from the Project Princess Inc. are showing up at all five libraries in Levy County.
     The program this week (June 19-23) is Royal Manners.
     At the Bronson Public Library, it was Princess Rapunzel and Princess Tiana who showed up to teach the children some manners.
     This year, the Levy County Public Library System has partnered with the Summer Break Spot and Levy County Public Schools to provide each child who is younger than 18 years old with a free lunch to be enjoyed in the library after each program.
     The 40 lunches provided to children at the Bronson Public Library on Tuesday afternoon was turkey and cheese wrap, Doritos, baby carrots and grape tomatoes with ranch dressing, frozen strawberry-mango juice cups and a choice of regular milk or chocolate milk.
     The presenters are from Project Princess, which is a group that visits children hospitals.

In this photo she took of herself with her cell phone, Kierra Brown holds the book she wrote for children -- Royal Responsibilities.
Photo by Kierra Brown

     After her performance in Bronson, Princess Tiana, who is Kierra Brown, noted on Facebook that she was very pleased to dress up as her favorite princess and read a children's book that she authored.
     Kierra Brown is a founder of Project Princess Inc., in Gainesville. She is also the 2017 Miss North Central Florida at The Miss Universe Organization.

Magician Jacki Manna opens his act Wednesday morning in Cross City.

Magician Jacki Manna works with a volunteer from the audience as he entertains the audience with his comedy and magic.

     Jacki Manna, a magician, puppeteer and ventriloquist, performed at the Dixie County Public Library in Cross City.
     There were scores of children and parents watching him.
     Among the benefits for all of the children was the presentation of a free tee-shirt from the Dixie County Anti-Drug Coalition.

Column and Photo
By Myrtice Scabarozi © June 21, 2017 @ 7:17 p.m.
* Updated June 22, 2017 at 2:17 p.m.
The Log Cabin Quilters met Thursday (June 15) at the Levy County Quilt Museum -- 11050 N.W. 10th Ave. (near Levyville, kind of on the way to Judson on Levy County Road 134 from U.S. Alt. 27).

     Members of the Red Hat Society from Dunnellon joined us for lunch. Thank you for joining us and we hope you enjoyed your visit.
     Correctional Officer John and the adult male inmates from Lancaster Correctional Institution were out during the week. We thought they had finally made all the shelves and racks that we needed for the Museum. Saturday, we found a need for a new rack to be made. We have a lot of templates that are used when han- quilting. A template is a design to be stitched creating a visible pattern in the fabrics. The templates had been hanging on a peg board which meant if you wanted the one in the back, all the other templates needed to be removed and then replaced.
     The new system will be hanging them on a short clothing rod making it possible to slide the templates back and forth and view each one. Thanks for your help guys.
     We’re finally getting a little more rain and the plants are loving it. The roses are needing to be trimmed and the day lilies really brighten the yard. The rocking chairs are waiting.

I don't know the name of this cactus. It's the first time I've seen it with a flower. The cactus seems to be happy under the porch out of a lot of sunlight and a very dry area.
* Vickie Mitchell sent a note to HardisonInk.com that this cactus us called Huernia schneideriana also known as red star cactus. They root really easy and make nice hanging plants too. (We shared it with our favorite quilting columnist as well.)

The lantana is about a year old and perfect on the north side of the building. We pretty much ignore it and it just keeps growing and covering the sandy area. The butterflies are also happy.

Critter Crusaders wash dogs
at Old Town Hardware

(from left) Critter Crusaders volunteers Debbie Hamon and Randy Miller wash the Great Dane named Jet, as Jet’s owner Vicki Krammer of Old Town assists.

Photo by Jeff M. Hardison

By Jeff M. Hardison © June 19, 2017 at 8:47 a.m.
     OLD TOWN --
The Critter Crusaders washed dogs as a fundraising event at Old Town Hardware, 164 S.E. Highway 349, in Old Town on Saturday (June 17).
     More than 20 dogs enjoyed a bubbly cool bath on this hot day, said Critter Crusaders leaders Al and Lucille Rese.
     The canines liked the blow dry and nail-trimming services provided by the Critter groomers too.

Ronnie Graham and his dog Darby

Photos by Lucille Rese

     Among the many dogs that enjoyed the event was Darby, Old Town Hardware owner Ronnie Graham’s dog. Darby was the first to enjoy a cool soak in the tub, Lucille Rese said. There was a wide variety of sizes and breeds of four-legged friends lined up for their turns at being pampered, she added.
     All funds raised by Critter Crusaders go to help pet owners who are in need of some financial assistance to care for their pets. The Critter Crusaders are active in helping people spay and neuter their pets, as one mission of helping to reduce the overpopulation of stray animals.
     This non-profit, voluntary, animal advocacy group also works to supply low cost vaccines, veterinary care and pet food.
     Many Dixie County residents expressed their appreciation for the affordable spay-neuter program. There were 26 spay and neuter applications completed for their dogs and cats.
     The children enjoyed the games at the game area on Saturday too.
     The Critter Crusaders crew, which was comprised of 13 volunteers on Saturday expressed their appreciation to hardware store owner Graham for his community spirit by welcoming the group to his store, and providing them with this location in Old Town for the event.
     Dixie County residents participated in an opportunity to sign up for the spay-neuter program offered by the animal advocacy group.
     “We also would like to thank Angie of Affordable Hair for her generous offer for use of her electricity for the Critter groomers,” Lucille Rese added.
     The group also appreciates pet owners who visited with their four-legged friends, many of which had been strays that found loving homes.
     “Without the assistance of our business establishments and our pet-friendly media, there's no way this event could have been a success," Critter Crusaders President Al Rese said.
     For funding help via spay-neuter applications, please call 352-210-1602 or 352-493-4857.

FWC reminds scallopers
to stay safe, recognize and use
divers-down flags and buoys

Photo Provided By FWC

By Robert Klepper of the FWC
Published June 15, 2017 at 4:27 p.m.
     FLORIDA --
With the opening of scallop seasons fast approaching, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wants to remind everyone engaged in this fun outdoor activity to use a divers-down warning device whenever they are snorkeling or scuba diving while searching for these tasty treats.
     The divers-down symbol is rectangular or square and red in color with a white diagonal stripe. A divers-down flag displayed on a boat must be at least 20 inches by 24 inches and displayed at a high point where it can be observed from 360 degrees around the vessel. A buoy may not be used or displayed from a vessel. A divers-down flag or buoy, displayed from the water, must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches. A flag must have a wire or other stiffener to hold it open and a buoy can be three- or four-sided.
     All divers must prominently display a divers-down device in the area in which the diving occurs.
     “Proper use and understanding of what a divers-down symbol means are critical,” said Capt. Tom Shipp of FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section. “It is meant to alert boaters to the presence of people under the water’s surface and to give them plenty of room.”
     All vessels must make reasonable effort to stay at least 100 feet away from a divers-down device within a river, inlet or channel. In open waters, vessels must make reasonable effort to stay 300 feet away. For safety, divers should stay within those same distances of their displayed device. A vessel that approaches closer must be fully off plane and at idle speed.
     “Divers share the responsibility of boating safety with the boat operators,” Shipp said. “Diving without the divers-down symbol displayed or using it for reasons other than to inform others of the presence of divers is unlawful.”
     The divers-down device should only be displayed when divers are ready to enter the water or are in the water. When divers or snorkelers exit the water, it must be taken down.
     More information on divers-down requirements is available online at MyFWC.com/Boating by clicking on “Boating Regulations.”

Hydroponic Devices Built

Levy County 4-H summer day camps have started. The first day camp is titled 4-H Grows Here: Gardening & Nutrition (June 12 - 15). On Tuesday (June 13), the campers enjoyed the opportunity to continue learning about hydroponic gardening. In this photo, Levy County 4-H Youth Development Agent Genevieve Mendoza is creating a strip of washcloth to fit into a two-liter bottle that has been cut by Kayla Waldorff, a volunteer. Waldorff is a graduate student in Agricultural Education and Communication with a specialization in Leadership Development at the University of Florida. She is scheduled to graduate with a master’s degree in the spring of 2018. The volunteer said she enjoys teaching campers about hydroponics. Mendoza and Waldorff created the materials for the campers to put together to create their own hydroponic devices. These will have the ability to grow cucumbers without the use of soil. Another crop that can be grown at this time of year in a hydroponic garden is watermelons.

The campers also are learning about how dyes are used to color carnations. There are four sets of white carnations the campers are getting to observe as those flowers absorb natural green, natural red, synthetic green and synthetic red dyes. On Wednesday (June 14), the campers in this program enjoyed an opportunity to visit an active watermelon field as Extension Agent (Agriculture, Commercial) Anthony Drew escorted them and helped them learn during that tour. They then enjoyed a visit to Winn-Dixie in Chiefland, where they could see the produce section where crops go before being purchased and taken home to the dinner table. The campers on Tuesday went home with hydroponic devices, complete with a start-up plant, and they took home bookmarks that showed different hydroponic methods, and they went home with other material to help them remember what they learned about this form of gardening. Some of the Levy County 4-H summer day camps are no longer accepting registrations, because they are completely full now. To learn more about these camps or to register for them, go to this website https://www.eventbrite.com/o/levy-county-4-h-program-13352949903. The telephone number to reach Levy County Extension is 352-486-5131.

Photos by Jeff M. Hardison © June 14, 2017 at 4:27 p.m.

Are You Raising Mosquitoes
in Your Yard?

By Levy County Mosquito Control Department
Published June 13, 2017 at 11:07 p.m
     BRONSON --
Check around your yard and home for places where water collects such as water-holding containers, house AC drains, and ornamental ponds – You May Be Raising Mosquitoes! 
     Here are positive steps you the homeowner can take to reduce this menace.
     ● Get rid of old tires, tin cans, bottles, jars, buckets and other containers or keep them emptied.
     ● Empty your small toddler-size wading pool weekly and store it indoors when not in use. 
     ● Make certain your backyard swimming pool is properly maintained.
     ● Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets and move air conditioner drain hoses frequently. 
     ● Scrub and change the water in bird baths and in vases holding flowers or cuttings twice each week or grow cuttings in sand.
     ● Empty outside water pans for pets daily.
     ● Clean clogged roof gutters and drain flat roofs and stock ornamental ponds with fish. 
     It’s A Fact….
     All mosquitoes need water to develop. 
     Most prefer slow-moving or stagnant water in which to lay their eggs. Eliminating potential breeding grounds around your home will certainly reduce the mosquito menace around your property.
     One tablespoon of water will breed over 200 mosquitoes. 
     During warm weather, mosquitoes can complete their life cycle in four days.
     If you need spraying or for more information you can contact the Levy County Mosquito Control at 352-486-5127.

Gilchrist County
Emergency Management
notes hurricane season
has started as of June 1

By Ralph Smith,
Director of Gilchrist County Emergency Management
Published June 13, 2017 at 11:07 p.m.
     TRENTON --
The 2017 Hurricane Season started on June 1 2017. We can never forget that it only takes one storm to change everything.
     After several years of slow, non-eventful hurricane seasons, it is very easy for us to fall into a false sense of complacency. Although, we talk a lot about hurricanes in the State of Florida, it is important to realize that we must be prepared for all hazards, not just the ones that we see on the Weather Channel. It’s almost better to think of hurricane season as a good reminder to check, practice, and update your emergency plans.
     We must be ready to meet the challenges of an ever changing world. If we work together as a community, there is nothing we can’t get through. It all starts with you and your family. The most powerful tool we have in disaster resiliency is a well prepared family.
     So, what are some of things that you can do to keep you and your family safe? The answer is simple. First, create a FAMILY DISASTER PLAN and practice it. That plan should include, at a minimum, the following:
     • Discussing the hazards that could affect your family, including storm surge, flooding, and wind.
     • Locate a safe room or area in your home or community
     • Determine escape routes from your home
     • Consider using out of state friends or family as a point of contact
     • Make a plan on what you will do with your pets (Gilchrist County DOES NOT have a pet shelter)
     • Post emergency numbers by phones, make sure your kids know how and when to call 911
     • Check your insurance policy. Remember flooding is usually not covered by standard homeowner insurance
     • Create a disaster supply kit
     • Get a NOAA weather radio
     • Take a first aid/CPR course
     • Register with Gilchrist County’s Special Needs Registry if you have a disability or other special need that would need to be addressed in the event of an emergency. This can be done by contacting the Gilchrist County Emergency Management Department or visiting our website at www.gilchristemergency.com
     • Sign up for Gilchrist County’s free Emergency Notification System. This can be done by visiting www.gilchristemergency.com and clicking on the CodeRED link or you may contact my office at 1-866-751-1728. This service is a great tool that is provided free of charge to Gilchrist County citizens by the Gilchrist County Board of Commissioners and Department of Emergency Management
     Creating a Disaster Supply Kit is something that many people do not take the time to do. Below you will find some items that you should include in a DISASTER SUPPLY KIT:
     • WATER- At least 1 gallon per person per day (replace once a year)
     • FOOD- At least enough for 3-7 days and a non-electric can opener
     • Blankets/Pillows etc.
     • Clothing, seasonal, rain gear, sturdy shoes
     • Prescription Drugs, Medication, OTC medication
     • Baby/Elderly necessities
     • Hygiene items
     • Flashlight with extra batteries
     • Radio
     • Fully charged cell phone, a traditional landline phone (not cordless). A corded landline phone may have power even if nothing else does
     • Cash and Credit Cards. Remember to include small bills
     • Keys
     • Important documents in a waterproof container
     • Tools
     • Fully fueled vehicle
     • Pet supplies including food, water, and medications
     • Toys, games, and other items to keep your mind occupied
     Finally, one of the most important questions that you may be asking yourself is WHEN SHOULD I EVACUATE? If you are told to evacuate, it is important that you do so right away. It is important that you have a plan for you and your family. If you feel that you need to leave, then it is a good idea to leave. Remember, there will be a time during a storm that Emergency Services WILL NOT BE ABLE TO RESPOND TO YOU and in some cases it may be days before emergency crews are able to respond depending on the road conditions, therefore if you have someone that has a known medical issue, you should evacuate early.
     If you need questions answered or would just like to get some more information please feel free to contact me to help get you prepared. Gilchrist County residents may reach me Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. by phone at 386-935-5400, toll free at 1-866-751-1728, or you may visit my office at 3250 N. US Hwy 129 Bell, FL 32619. If you are not a Gilchrist County resident you may contact my office and I will provide contact information for your County’s Emergency Management Center.
     Thank you all and be safe.
     Website:  www.gilchristemergency.com

Milkweed prefers sandhills

The leaves and flowers of Asclepias humistrata

Photo By Bob Bierman

Story By Barbara Edmonds, Program Assistant, Levy County Extension
Published June 9, 2017 at 9:57 p.m.
In spring and summer, one may happen upon the pinewoods milkweed.
     Also known as sandhill or pineland milkweed, Asclepias humistrata prefers dry, sandy disturbed sites such as those found in the sandhills, dry pinelands and woods.
     A Florida native species, pinewoods milkweed boasts a lovely purple-blush stem supporting broad oval leaves, 2- to 4-inches long with showy pink to purple veins. Leaves arise from the same node on opposite sides of the stem.
     Curved, elongate 3- to five-inches green fruit are pod-like, often occurring in pairs. Pods dry and split to reveal flattened brown seeds attached to tufts of long silky hairs. Tufts act as parachutes, helping to disperse seed with the gentlest of breezes.

This is a photo of the green fruit that is pod-like.
Photo By Barbara Edmonds

     Typically at 8- to 28-inches tall, humistrata means “ground spreading” referring to the low sprawling growth habit. Diminutive loose flower clusters provides nectar for a variety of butterflies such as swallowtail, hairstreak, skipper and monarch.
     Female monarch butterflies lay eggs on the foliage which becomes a food source for emerging larvae. Research indicates that milkweed may be the only plant consumed by monarch larvae. As such, this perennial is one of several native milkweed species being mapped as part of a nationwide monarch conservation effort.
     University of Florida researchers Jonathan Bremer and Matt Standridge are working with Florida “citizen scientists” to document roadside populations of naturally occurring areas of Asclepias humistrata in North and Central Florida. A population consists of three or more plants. View all Florida native milkweed species being studied and participate at https://flawildflowers.wufoo.com/forms/rteeln509nqxv2/ .
     If you find this to be an undesirable plant in your landscape, pulling or hoeing random plants may be one option for control. One may remove seed pods, thereby reducing future plants. For recommendations, contact your local county Extension office. The number to call for Levy County Extension is 352-486-5131.

2017 bay scallop season in
Dixie and Taylor counties

starting on June 16
By the FWC
Published June 7, 2016 at 10:47 p.m.
Get your bay scallop bags and shucking tools ready.
     The 2017 recreational bay scallop season for Dixie County and parts of Taylor County will open June 16 and remain open through Sept. 10.
     This includes all state waters from the Suwannee River through the Fenholloway River. These new season dates are for 2017 only and are an opportunity to explore regionally-specific bay scallop seasons.
     Harvesting bay scallops is a fun outdoor activity that the whole family can participate in. It also has an important economic impact on coastal areas in the open region.
     The scallop season in St. Joseph Bay in Gulf County will be July 25 through Sept. 10 and includes all waters in St. Joseph Bay and those west of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County, through the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County.
     All other portions of the bay scallop harvest zone will be open from July 1 through Sept. 24. This includes all state waters from the Pasco-Hernando county line to the Suwannee River Alligator Pass Daybeacon 4 in Levy County, and from north and west of Rock Island near the mouth of the Fenholloway River in Taylor County through the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County.
     Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff worked with local community leaders on selecting these regional 2017 season dates.
     At the December 2017 Commission meeting, staff will review public feedback on these changes and make a recommendation for future management. To submit your feedback on bay scallop regulations, visit MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.
     Bag and vessel limits throughout the entire bay scallop harvest zone are 2 gallons whole bay scallops in shell or 1 pint of bay scallop meat per person, with a maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in shell or 1/2 gallon bay scallop meat per vessel.
     Scallops may be collected by hand or with a landing or dip net.
     Scallops must be landed within the area that is open to harvest.
     There is no commercial harvest allowed for bay scallops in Florida.
     Be safe when diving for scallops. Stay within 300 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag or buoy when scalloping in open water and within 100 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag or buoy if on a river, inlet or navigation channel. Boat operators traveling within 300 feet of a divers-down flag or buoy in open water or 100 feet of one on a river, inlet or navigational channel must slow to idle speed.
     Done for the day? Help FWC’s scallop researchers by completing an online survey by clicking HERE. Harvesters can indicate where they harvest scallops, how many they collect and how long it takes to harvest them. Participants can email BayScallops@MyFWC.com to ask questions or send additional information.
     Learn more about long-term trends in the open and closed scalloping areas by visiting http://myfwc.com/Research and clicking on “Saltwater,” “Mollusks,” “Bay Scallops” and “Season.”
     For more information on the season date changes for 2017, visit http://myfwc.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings,” then click on “2016” and “Agenda” under the November meeting.
     For information on bay scallop regulations, visit http://myfwc.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops.”

FRIDAY  JUNE 23  4:07 p.m.
Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties

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