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Date of Issue: February 15, 2007

'Go Native' nature of talk

The Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification Committee plans to give roots to the "Go Native" concept at a public forum Feb. 20.

Each year the committee hosts a public education forum. This year’s topic is "Go Native! with Plants and Trees." The event takes place at 7 p.m. at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

At a parks and beautification committee meeting Feb. 7, members focused on final preparations for the program.

"Everything is in line," said committee member Kathy King, who will emcee.

The speakers include Mike Miller, Maureen Hirthler, Peggy Dessaint and Tom Heitzman.

Islanders Miller and Hirthler have converted and cultivated public and private spaces.

Miller’s landscaping work can be seen outside Anna Maria City Hall and on the grounds of the Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum on Pine Avenue.

"He’s so passionate," King said. "He’s done a lot of great work."

Hirthler is a master gardener and a Holmes Beach resident who has experience planting "native" gardens.

Dessaint, a representative from the Manatee County Extension Service, will talk about Florida yards and neighborhoods.

"Everyone wants a thriving, beautiful garden," King said, adding that Dessaint can help gardeners plant the "right plant in the right place."

Heitzman, the president of the Manatee County Audubon Society Chapter and the owner of Sweetbay Nursery, will advise on purchasing native plants.

A question-and-answer session will follow the four presentations.

King said the program is structured to provide residents all the "tools in the toolbox" needed to create a landscape native to their barrier island.

In other business at the committee meeting, there was a brief discussion about Manatee County’s plans for the Kingfish Boat Ramp area, including the removal of Brazilian pepper trees and some Australian pines.

Committee members - with the clearing of more than 60 Australian Pines for a path at Coquina Beach fresh in their minds - raised concerns that the county might take more trees than planned at Kingfish.

Holmes Beach resident Molly McCartney said when the tree removal begins, residents of nearby Westbay Cove condominiums will monitor the situation.

McCartney, as a representative of Westbay Cove North, worked with the county to refine the Kingfish project.

The tree removal at Kingfish was expected to begin in late January but equipment problems delayed the work.

At the next meeting March 7 at city hall, committee members plan to discuss a tree dedication program, sites for the planting of Arbor Day trees and working toward a "Tree City USA" designation for Holmes Beach.