submitted by Jude Simpson, President Hernando Chapter FNPS

The February 3 meeting of the Hernando Chapter FNPS will be held at historic Chinsegut Hill.Our program will feature Christie Anderberg, caretaker of Audubon's Ahhochee Hill Sanctuary, who has taken on the a new role as Executive Director of the Friends of Chinsegut Hill. Christie will share some of the history of this historic property, and her hopes for its future. Native plant enthusiasts will be interested in Christie's knowledge of the unique plant species found on the sister hills.

Please join us at 6:30 pm to experience sunset at the Hill and an inspiring program about its future.
Location: Chinsegut Hill Manor House, 22495 Chinsegut Hill Road, Brooksville, FL. 34601 (see map).
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The Chinsegut Hill location is also being considered as the regular meeting place for the Hernando Chapter of FNPS. After a lively discussion at the January Chapter members' meeting, we agreed to meet at Chinsegut Hill in February to assess the venue.

Pros and Cons

A free meeting space has been offered to us at Chinsegut Hill, and there are many benefits to meeting there. These include use of the kitchen, a projector screen and a place to store our materials. The meeting room affords a spectacular view of the fields and woods below and amazing sunsets, one of the best views anywhere in Florida. In warmer weather there is access to a fire pit and in summer the option to do outdoor programs, and to increase the presence of Florida native plants in the landscape.

Last year, the Hernando Chapter's meeting space rental was over $1000, and we had some access issues. Other centrally located sites run between $880-$1100, and do not align nearly as well with our mission as does the Hill.

Members did pose questions about the distance, outdoor lighting and accessibility; the Hernando Chapter Board members explored these issues on-site with Christie Andenberg during their January 14th meeting.

We found a very welcoming atmosphere, only six miles north of our previous meeting place. The parking area is now well lit with floodlights, and there is a floodlight near the dining hall where we are scheduled to meet. There are exterior lights on the buildings. In addition, Gwen Bassick loaned us festive outdoor lights to mark the path until additional permanent lighting is installed. Janet will bring additional string lights to better mark the boundary of the parking area and Jude will bring a camp lantern to mark the main entrance

A sidewalk and other improvements for access are in the planning stage. We expect them to be done this spring. Meanwhile, there is a golf cart available to help those who need it get from the parking area to the meeting room and restrooms. We are also discussing carpool options.