Wild Places

Alafia River State Park

Alafia River State Park, located in Hillsborough County, is the place to go for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. Alafia River State Park sits on what was once a phosphate mine known as Fort Lonesome. Mining companies donated the 7,733-acre area to the state.

The mining companies changed the landscape and left behind an area with small lakes and steep grades. Alafia boasts elevations high enough to challenge members of the International Mountain Bike Association. Alafia UBC is on-site for bike rentals and repairs.

Spend the night or sleep under the stars at Alafia. Family, equestrian, and primitive campsites are available. Host your family or friends for an outdoor get-together. Rent a pavilion for your next party, reunion, or event.

There are 20 miles of hilly trails waiting to be explored at Alafia River State Park. Hike, horseback ride, or take a leisurely stroll through the forests. Eat your picnic lunch lakeside or under one of the pavilions. Canoe or kayak on the Alafia River. Discover the many birds, wildlife, and plants who call Alafia home.

For more information including what is currently open, click here :

Photo Credit: Aymee Lauraine

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Tiger Creek Preserve

Tiger Creek Preserve at Lake Wales Ridge

Tiger Creek Preserve is located on the eastern side of Lake Wales Ridge about five miles north of Frostproof in Babson. It boasts approximately 10 miles of trails within its 4869 acres and is protected almost entirely by the Nature Conservancy in partnership with USFWS and the State of Florida.

Lake Wales Ridge was once a beach and sand dune where animals and plants developed to thrive in the island’s sandy soil. Only about 15% of this 2.3 million-year-old scrub ecosystem exists today. Here you will find one of the highest concentrations of endangered and threatened animals and plants in the US.

Tiger Creek Preserve contains sandhill habitat as well as scrubby flatwood, pine flatwood, longleaf pine, hammock, and hardwood swamp habitats. Two Blackwater streams wind through the preserve. The streams collect water on higher ground and become black as tannins from leaf litter and other vegetation leaches into the water. The Nature Conservancy protects the habit with prescribed burns and the removal of invasive species.

Hike, bike, canoe, or kayak at Tiger Creek Preserve. Look for gopher tortoises, bald eagles, hawks, and the curious Florida Scrub-Jay. Experience the thrill of exploring Florida’s ancient and imperiled scrub and sandhill habitats while discovering some of the 40 endemic invertebrates, more than 40 endemic plants, and 4 threatened wildlife species.

For more information:

Photo Credit: Andy Waldo

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Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge

Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge was purchased by US Fish & Wildlife Service through the Federal Duck Stamp Program. It was established in 1964 as a migratory bird refuge. Located in Volusia County near DeLeon Springs, the 22,000-acre refuge is bordered by the St. John’s River and includes swamps, marshes, uplands, hammocks, and creeks.

Look for bears, bobcats, manatees, otters, raccoons, opossums, and rabbits. Gopher tortoises, alligators, lizards, snakes, turtles, salamanders, toads, and frogs may cross your path.

There are 230 species of birds at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge. How many songbirds, shorebirds, wading birds, and hawks will you see? The refuge boasts the 2nd largest pre-migration roost of swallow-tailed kites in the United States.

For more information click here: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Lake_Woodruff/

Photo Credit: Alex Clark
Swallow-tailed Kite – Andy Waldo.

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Black Point Wildlife Drive


Black Point Wildlife Drive

*Be safe. Be sure to practice physical distancing with animals and people.

Located in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Black Point Wildlife Drive is a 7-mile one-way road where visitors may view wildlife by hiking, from their bike, or from the comfort of their cars. There is a $10 fee per car to enter the drive. Restrooms are located at Stop 9.

The entrance to the Allan D. Cruickshank Memorial Trail is also located at Stop 9. It is a 5-mile walking trail complete with an observation tower. Leashed dogs are permitted to explore the trail with you. The Wild Birds Unlimited Trail is located at Stop 4. It passes between two ponds in full sun but is only 1/2 mile out and back.

Wildlife at Black Point Wildlife Drive thrives in and near the ponds, marshes, canals, and Pine Flatwoods. Look for birds including wading birds, shorebirds, and migratory birds. Raptors, alligators, turtles, river otters, bobcats, opossums, armadillos, snakes, and more call Black Point home. Animals are most active in the early morning and late afternoon.

Take time to explore as you make your way slowly through Black Point Wildlife Drive. Stop to admire the beauty of the animals who live there. Discover how they hunt, eat, play, and rest in their peaceful, natural habitat. Note how the sun shimmers off of the waters and makes the colors of wildflowers more vibrant. Leave your cares behind and for a time, immerse yourself in Nature and all her glory.

Photo Credit: Dan & Nancy Kon

For more information: https://www.fws.gov/…/Merri…/Black_Point_Wildlife_Drive.aspx

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Your Neighborhood

In Your Neighborhood

Get outside. Stroll through your neighborhood. Connect with Nature.
Listen to the leaves rustling in the wind and the birds chirping among the branches. Admire the beauty of a dead tree or limb while considering the wildlife who depend on them.
Look for tiny wildflowers peeking from under a shrub. Pause for a few minutes and immerse yourself in the busy life of a bug or an ant colony. Our wild friends are as curious about us as we are of them. When you meet one, cherish the moment.
Inhale deeply. Exhale all of your negative thoughts. Let your cares be swept away on the wings of a bird soaring with the wind.

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Green Springs State Park

Green Springs State Park

Note: Visit the website or call first to see if your local park is open. If it is, be sure to adhere to safe social distancing practices.

Green Springs Park covers 31 acres of pristine nature and has one of Florida’s few green sulfur springs.

Visitors can enjoy paved and natural trails, scenic overlooks, a playground, and picnic pavilions. There are also public restrooms that are maintained and plenty of parking. No swimming or fishing is allowed.

Green Springs Park has played an important role in Volusia County’s history that dates back to early native settlers. In 1841 a hotel was built at the end of the springs and is known as one of Florida’s first health spas. It later (1883) became a large estate for a wine importer and steamboat baron.

Green Springs Park offers nature trails and scenic overlooks. This park is also a trailhead to both the Spring-to-Spring Trail and the East Central Regional Rail Trail. The East Central Regional Rail Trail begins at Green Springs and travels 5.7 miles to State Road 415 in Osteen.

Location: 994 Enterprise/Osteen Road, Enterprise
Open daily: Sunrise to sunset

Admission: Free
For more information, click here:

Photo and Story by IOF Lead Educator Melanie Lulue

#ImagineOurFlorida #IOF #GreenSpringsStatePark #GetOutside #socialdistancing

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Your Yard

Connect with Nature in your own back yard.
Walk around and appreciate what is blooming, the little crawling critters, and the pollinators flitting or buzzing from flower to flower.
Sit on the ground, play in the dirt, and meet what life abounds there.
Grab a lawn chair, and sit in your front yard. Be still and listen to the birds. Look up to see who is perched in the trees and who is soaring overhead.
Call a neighbor and ask them to join you in their own front yard. Two sets of eyes on the lookout for wildlife is a good thing and the benefit from distant socializing will be a much-needed reprieve.

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