Seffner artists organize to save endangered Pemberton Creek area

By Cheryl Kuck
Tribune correspondent
June 3, 2009

   As the environmental message to go green resounds across the nation, Seffner residents and artists are taking a stand to save an area many in the community consider to be its last wildlife habitat.
   Concerned residents met recently at the Seffner-Mango Library to see an exhibit of fine art reflecting the pristine habitat they say will be destroyed if Tampa Electric Co. goes ahead with its plan to erect a 30-mile path of high-voltage power lines through the area.
   Art student Susan Watson and naturalist Linda Curl founded an organization called Sef-Flow to bring attention to the endangered Pemberton Creek Watershed area of the Hillsborough River Basin that includes Seffner and Dover.
   They hope to create enough support and documentation for the Hillsborough Environmental Lands and Acquisition Protection Program, known as ELAPP, to save the Eagle Forest, home to a family of American bald eagles, ruby-throated hummingbird and more than 53 species of wildlife and indigenous flora, from the encroachment of a swath of power lines that will cut through the forest, wetland and pristine watershed habitat.
   This environmentally sensitive basin has been documented as an ancient canoe route for Native Americans who lived and traveled through the area.
   When Watson showed her art teacher Sue Allen photographs that she and her husband had taken of the woodland behind their property, Allen, nine students and another Center Place teacher were inspired to create paintings of Seffner's Eagle Forest and wetlands.  Those works recently were exhibited at the Seffner-Mango Library.
   The exhibit also included a public conservation meeting and program presented by Kim Tapley, an environmental scientist.
   Taking their green commitment seriously, all the artists painted on a synthetic machine-made paper known as Yupo that uses no products made from tree pulp.  Originally used by photographers, artists have discovered the interesting flow and brilliant color that can be created on the unique surface.
   Local artist Taylor Ikin, who is recognized as one of the early proponents of Yupo, has written an instructional book with a DVD titled, "Dancing with Yupo - Tools and Techniques."
   Watson and Curl asked Ikin to join them on an information-gathering hike through the Eagle Forest to prepare for a series of paintings on Yupo depicting the endangered Seffner habitat.
   Sef-Flow is planning future art exhibits and a series of conservation workshops called Too Much, Too Little, but not Too Late.  The goal is to create a representative group of residents who will be responsible for community education and water testing, as well as other events to spark public awareness.
   Ikin says the new Seffner works may become a part of her latest series, "The Road Less Traveled."  Those works are being previewed at Nuance Galleries, 804 S. Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa through January.  She will also host a workshop from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Nuance on June 13.  For information, call (813) 875-0511 or go to www.taylorikin.com.
   For information about Sef-Flow projects in water conservation, flood protection, water quality and watersheds, call (813) 651-3345.

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