Trip Number: 12346A
Staff: Suzanne Valencia
- Help with landscaping, trail maintenance, and possible small construction
- Enjoy a walk along the history trail
- Learn the Prehistoric and Pioneer history of this important area
- Visit Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge or Kennedy Space Center
on day off
- Lodging in newly renovated 1888 house
- All meals, vegetarian options always available
- Staff-led programs
The Pine Island Conservation Area (PICA) is one of the first fossil sites
recorded on Merritt Island in the 20th century. It consists of 879 acres on
Merritt Island in Brevard County, Florida, jointly owned by the Brevard County
Environmentally Endangered Lands Program (EEL) and the St. Johns Water Management
There are two distinct areas in Pine Island: Sams Site and the Sams Creek Fossil
Sams Site is a multi-component site that spans from the Middle Archaic Period
(5,000-3,500 BC) through Malabar I period (500 BC-AD 750) with an historic occupation
dating from 1878 to present. The prehistoric site consists of a scatter of material,
mostly potsherds, some flakes of stone from making tools, a coquina grinding
stone, and two spear points. From previous tests, it is known that there is
a pattern suggesting individual homes (or family units) or areas where specific
activities were happening. The site is unique for the coastal area as there
are almost no shell mounds or areas that archaeologists call middens. The historic
portion of the site is associated with the two houses and dates to the 1880s
through 1911. Artifacts from this site included dishes and bottle fragments,
square nails, and animal bones.
Photo: Vince Lamb
Sams House 1 was constructed in 1875 in Eau Gallie by John H. Sams. After a
crop failure, the house was moved in 1878 via the Indian River to its present
location. Some of the windows retain their original glass panes. The house originally
sat upon pine piers that have been replaced with block. The interior of the
house is a mixture of recent (1890s-1950s) improvements including partially
covering the walls with bead board panels and the installation of gas and electrical
light fixtures. Square nails from its original construction can be seen on the
exterior and interior of the house. This house has become a nature center with
displays on Pine Island's past inhabitants.
Sams House 2 is a two-story wood frame vernacular-style house with an exterior
façade of wooden drop siding. It was built on site around 1888 to accommodate
the growing family. This house has been renovated, with the first floor devoted
to staff offices and the second floor serves as a dormitory for volunteers.
A brand new building separate from the two houses contains public restrooms,
additional showers, a fully-equipped kitchen, and a large screened porch.
The Sams Creek Fossil Site is located north of the Sams Site area. The fossil-bearing
material was found in the bottom of Sams Creek, a large tidal creek system.
The exact location of the deposit below surface or the size is unknown at this
time. Interestingly, a fossil bone fragment ground into a pin was recovered
from the archaeological site. Fossil remains include Mastodon, Giant Land Tortoise,
Camel, Glyptodont, Horse, Mammoth, Giant Armadillo, Peccary, and Tapir. Wait
until you see the history walkway near Sams House!
Our work may consist of trail maintenance at PICA and/or other EEL sites;
maintenance of grounds, structures and exhibits at Sams House; landscaping and
gardening at Sams House; and possible construction of small structures such
as wood rail fences and benches.
As with all land agencies, budget and staff cuts for the EEL program have made it difficult to maintain our properties. And, as always, Sierra Club volunteers are ready and able to do whatever work is necessary.
Photo: Vince Lamb
Day 1: We will gather at 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 21, 2012,
for introductions, orientation, and getting settled in before dinner at 6 pm.
We will go over our week's schedule and the possibilities of after-work and
day-off activities. We will get our day packs ready to go with water, lunch,
medical forms (I will give you a copy of yours), personal first aid kit, any
medications you may need for the day, camera, flower and/or bird books, gloves,
and anything else you need for a day away from "home."
Days 2-3: We will eat our breakfast at 7:30 a.m., pack lunches,
clean up the commissary, and be ready to go to work by 8:30 a.m. We may or may
not need vehicles to get to our work site. If we are working around the Sams
House grounds, we can walk.
Day 4: Today will be our day off. After eating breakfast and
packing your lunch, you are free to sightsee. There are many attractions in
the area, not the least of them is the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
and the Kennedy Space Center. There is also good birding at the Viera Wetlands.
Days 5-6: We will continue with our service work.
Day 7: We will say our good-byes after breakfast on Saturday,
when the trip officially ends.
Pine Island Conservation Area is accessible from either the Orlando International
airport (MCO), about 45 miles or from Melbourne International Airport (MLB),
about 33 miles. Delta and US Air flights only out of MLB. Detailed directions
will be given to approved participants.
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Vince Lamb
We will be housed in the newly renovated Sams House. The first
floor is dedicated to staff offices, which are off-limits to us; however, we
will have the use of the living area. The three bedrooms on the second floor
have been outfitted especially for volunteers, with four bunk beds in each as
well as small storage units with hanging space and two drawers for each volunteer.
Due to this configuration, I decided this would have to be a women's-only trip.
There is only one bathroom on this floor, but there is a new out building, which
contains visitor bathrooms as well as additional showers, a fully equipped kitchen,
and a large screened porch. The porch is perfect for meetings and will also
serve as our dining room.
The leader believes
in eating lower on the food chain; however, meat will be available for breakfasts
and lunches. Dinners will be vegetarian. Other diets or food restrictions can
be accommodated if you discuss this with the trip leader.
Up to Top
The work should be only moderately strenuous (no high altitude, no rock breaking).
However, everyone will be encouraged to work to the level of their ability and
endurance and to take water and/or shade breaks when necessary. On all of my
trips, my primary concern is to work safely, then to have fun doing it, and
lastly to accomplish a good job.
Equipment and Clothing
No camping gear is needed, but you will need to bring a pillow, sheets and
blankets or a sleeping bag, and your own towels and toiletries. You will need
work clothes that may get stained or torn -- fashion plates need not apply.
Thrift stores are good places to get work clothes. After-work and/or day-off
clothes can be anything in which you are comfortable. You will need a simple
day pack for carrying water, hat, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, personal first-aid
kit, camera, and whatever else you need to be comfortable for the day. A complete
equipment list will be sent closer to the time of the trip.
The following websites are especially recommended:
Photo: Vince Lamb
Your volunteer leaders have a long-term dedication to the Sierra Club mission:
"to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth." We
hope to impart to you some of our love for this area and for the work of the
Sierra Club. We believe that the Sierra Club's outings program provides an excellent
opportunity for members to enjoy the fruits of past conservation victories and
to learn about current concerns. While on this trip, you will be expected to
share the local conservation issues from your area. Above all, we will have
discussions on what each and every one of us can do to lessen our impact on
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
Suzanne Valencia has been leading local group outings since 1992 and went on her first national Sierra Club trip in 1997. Her love of the out of doors led her to becoming a national leader herself. She has led over fifty trips since 2001, from Florida to Colorado, New Mexico, California, Maryland, and Utah. Most of these were service trips. She loves sharing the wilderness experience with others and especially working to help in the National Parks and Refuges.
Lynn Malley is a longtime Sierra Club Member who has served on the Conservation and Outings Committees of the Oklahoma State Chapter. She recently moved to coastal South Carolina, has read about service trips for 20 years and is delighted to have both the time and the opportunity to begin to lead them. With a background in conflict management, two years spent living in the Balkans, and a passion for supporting those who serve abroad on our behalf, she has long seen the tie between living in a sustainable way and not being dependent on resources from abroad. Eating and giving away food grown on her back porch garden is a real treat for Lynn.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips