On Thursday, October 29, the 85 cyclists of the STIHL Tour des Trees, North America’s largest fundraiser for tree research, travelled from Fort Myers Beach to Everglades City as part of their weeklong cycling trek through Florida to increase awareness of the need for tree research and to raise funds for the Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund (TREE Fund). The cyclists come from all walks of life, including arborists, educators, entrepreneurs, and tree enthusiasts from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany.
The Tour’s first stop of the day was at Naples’ Cambier Park, where councilman Sam Saad was on hand to greet the cyclists and plant a new live oak tree, donated by Cherry Lake Tree Farm. Next on the itinerary was a visit to Marco Island STIHL dealer, Sunshine Ace Hardware.
The riders stopped for lunch at Collier-Seminole State Park, home to one of the largest mangrove swamps in the world, where a park ranger shared thehistory of the Everglades’ evolution as an accessible tourist destination and a unique (and threatened) ecosystem.
The day concluded at Everglades City, where the Tour des Trees riders enjoyed an “Everglades immersion” experience via kayak or airboat, facilitated by their hosts for the night at the Ivey House. Later that evening, the cyclists planted a magnolia tree on the Ivey House property in remembrance of Terrill Collier, a veteran of many Tours des Trees who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year. At dinner, Everglades Regional Biologist Dennis Giardina of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission spoke about the impact of invasive species on the Everglades’ fragile ecosystem.
Since 1992, the Tour des Trees has raised more than $7.2 million for tree research and education programs. Proceeds from the event supports research projects dedicated to caring for urban trees. The Tour also funds arboriculture education programs for children and communities and scholarships for aspiring tree care professionals. For more information, visit www.stihltourdestrees.org.