Pinellas County parks are going back to nature with the creation of no mow zones throughout the county park system. No mow zones are designated areas where crews stop mowing and allow nature to return. Eventually, native plants replace the grasses, giving the park’s critters a place to hide and eat. The wildflowers attract bugs, birds and butterflies, which adds to the natural beauty of the park, and contributes to the preservation of the county’s natural areas.
For mowing questions or to report county-owned lands that need attention, call the hot line at (727) 582-MOWS (6697) or send an email.
The busiest areas of the parks are still mowed on a regular basis so that visitors to the parks can enjoy the playgrounds, shelters, fields and other high-use areas. Mowing is done in a regular rotation. The parks are mowed about once monthly, and more often during the height of the growing season. Parks and Conservation Resources is also responsible for maintaining other areas of Pinellas County.
The Effect of Too Much Mowing:
The concept of allocating areas to nature is not a new one. For years, there have been areas in the county’s parks that were left natural. No mow zones save money in staff time and equipment, and add to the natural beauty of the parks. In addition, mowing uses energy and emits excess CO2 into the air. Maintaining the mowed areas requires the use of fertilizers and insect killer, which also adds to the harmful effects. Mowing destroys habitat for wildlife, and does nothing to attract birds, butterflies and fireflies.
The Fireflies Are Back:
Wall Springs Park was one of the first parks to have the official no mow areas. When the grass was allowed to “go wild” it was eventually taken over by native growth, wildflowers and shrubs. And then came the bugs, birds and butterflies … and fireflies! Many native Floridians have never seen fireflies – also known as lightning bugs - because of the glow of their thorax at night. So, in Wall Springs Park there are now fireflies.
Signage for the No Mow Zones:
Signs are being erected to mark no mow zones and to inform residents about the project. The signs say Habitat Restoration for Future Generations. Residents are asked to be patient, as the transition back to nature takes time. These areas that look overgrown will eventually transform and add to the beauty of the county’s parks. Visitors to the parks are welcome to investigate the no mow zones; there are no restrictions on walking or exploring these natural areas.
Caretakers of our Environment:
We all love the wildlife of Pinellas, but development has encroached on the natural habitat of wildlife. Targeting areas that are not heavily used in parks creates more natural areas in which wild animals and native plants can find shelter, and perhaps allow a more peaceful coexistence with the visitors to their home.
As part of the careful scrutiny of the budget and the ongoing search for efficiencies, the county’s mowing services were consolidated. All of the mowing is now being handled by the Parks and Conservation Resources Department, which is responsible for the mowing of the county’s parks, rights of way and other county property. The county continues to look for cost-saving measures that make good sense – like the establishment of no mow zones. It conserves resources: money, staff time, equipment, natural habitat and helps to cleanse our water.
We are asking for patience as the no mow zones develop naturally. Since residents are more familiar with the parks and the natural areas than our visitors, they are the best ones to explain the no mow concept to our visitors.
For questions or to report county-owned lands that need attention, call the hot line at (727) 582-MOWS (6697) or send an email.