Volunteers Support J.W. Corbett WMA in Palm Beach County

The J. W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area (60,348 acres), located in northwestern Palm Beach County, is owned and managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Corbett is managed for a variety of wildlife, including endangered and threatened species, migratory birds, fish, and both game and nongame species. The area is also managed for recreational uses, including camping, biking, hiking and horseback riding. Corbett has a long history of volunteer support and with only five employees to manage the entire area volunteer efforts have been and remain invaluable. During FY 09/10 Corbett volunteers logged 2900 volunteer hours.

For the past sixteen years local clubs have sponsored an annual clean-up, logging approximately 500 volunteer hours annually and filling four 20-cubic yard dumpsters before noon. At noon, all participants meet at a designated camp to have lunch provided by the clubs. Local club involvement includes: Florida Sportsmens Conservation Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, Florida Trails Association, Palm Beach Airboat and Halftrack Association, Wellington Radio Club, Pine Jog Environmental Center and Friends of Corbett.

J. W. Corbett has the first and only Friends of group within the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Established in 2000, the Friends of Corbett (FOC) meets monthly to discuss assistance for Corbett and the Everglades Youth Conservation Camp, located within Corbett and operated by Pine Jog and Florida Atlantic University. In the past, FOC has raised monies for dumpsters, clothes washers/driers, refrigerators, signs, lawn mowers and repairs to the Everglades Youth Conservation Camp and Corbett, including $75,000 for the road. They hold an annual banquet each June for board elections, member recruitment and socializing. FOC presents volunteer awards and plaques at the banquet and volunteer approximately 450 hours themselves. The day before the banquet, Florida Sportsmen Conservation Association cleans and mows the Youth Camp in preparation for summer camp. FOC biannually sponsors a Tales of Corbett banquet where speakers present topics of historic nature about Corbett.

There are approximately 2,000 acres of abandoned agricultural fields on the area, some of which are mowed or planted with wildlife food. Each year, Joe Brennan; a National Wild Turkey Federation volunteer, donates an average 290 hours to the wildlife forage program mowing 300 acres and planting 200 with a variety of wildlife forage.

Additional volunteer contribution for FY 09/10 include approximately 400 hours from Florida Trails Association to clear trails, 80 hours from Wellington Radio Club for communication support, 100 hours of combined club support for tree planting, and various other projects including red-cockaded woodpecker monitoring, bird counts, invasive exotic plant projects, clean-ups, landscaping, wildlife surveys, wood duck and barn owl box installation and monitoring. David Wilms, a retired FWC employee regularly volunteers (200 hours) on prescribed burns and other tasks he performed as a paid employee.

Volunteer support on Corbett remains invaluable. Without a doubt, we couldn't do it without them!

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