Field Trips

 

April Field Trip

Title/Topic:    Circle B Bar Reserve Hike
When:      Saturday, April  20, 2024, 9:00 am

Where:       Circle B Bar Reserve Hike
Address:    4399 Winter Lake Rd., Lakeland, FL 33803

Meet in front of the Discovery Center

Carpooling is encouraged.  More information will be provided the trip or you can contact Barbara Kawczynski atbkaw12@gmail.com

What to wear: good walking, closed toed shoes, and sunscreen. Bring a hat and water. Wear appropriate clothing for the weather.

Description:

This joint field trip with the Heartland Chapter will be a highlight of the year.  There is lots to see on this 1,267 acre property with its varied ecosystems, bird populations, and other creatures. Heartland members know the Reserve well as they have their meetings at the Discovery Center.  The field trip will be led by several of their most knowledgeable members. 
The Circle B Bar Reserve is named after a cattle ranch that once existed
on this property.  The property was jointly acquired by the Polk County Environmental Lands Program and the Southwest Florida Water Management District in December 2000 to protect the floodplain of Lake Hancock and to restore the Banana Creek marsh system.  Much of the property had been converted to pasture, but in 2005 and 2006, restoration projects were completed to restore much of the original hydrologic function of the lands. Lake Hancock, often considered the headwaters of the Peace River, flows more than 100 miles from Polk County southwest to the Gulf of Mexico. Oak hammock, freshwater marsh, hardwood swamp and the lakeshore are among the unique characteristics of this property.
The marsh area is about 400 acres and as a result of the marsh system restoration project, the Reserve is now home to some impressive bird activity. The bird population includes a variety of wading birds, waterfowl, ospreys and bald eagles. The ongoing restoration in the Banana Creek Marsh has provided foraging and breeding areas for a number of species never recorded on the site before. In 2008, the Reserve was added to the Great Florida Birding Trail. Alligators, eagles, osprey, red shouldered hawks, wild turkey, barred owls, wood storks, white ibis, sandhill cranes, moorhens, pied-billed grebes, black-necked stilts, red-bellied woodpeckers, bobwhite quails, eastern meadowlarks, savannah sparrows, American kestrels, great blue herons, American white pelicans, sandpipers, spoonbills, great egrets, ducks and other waterfowl and wading birds are often seen. We might also see otters, bobcats, grey fox, armadillos, squirrels (gray and fox varieties), frogs, turtles, black racer snakes, five-lined racerunner lizards and other reptiles. Many migratory birds are also found there in the winter months.
The ecosystems of Circle B are historically composed of live oak hammocks, marsh and upland sandhill and sand pine scrub. The live oak hammock form a canopy and is dominated by live oaks, and epiphytes; spanish moss, resurrection fern, and butterfly orchid, and the terristerial plant beggerweed. The marsh has seasonal wet and dry periods and include alligator flag pickerelweed, and arrowheads.
The sandhill trees in the Reserve include longleaf pine, broadleaf trees, like turkey oak, bluejack or upland willow oak. Herbaceous plants include dog banana, Florida paintbrush, and sky blue lupine.  The sand pine scrub is characterized by having white sand and dominated by sand pine. It is said to be the oldest community found in Florida.  The understory thickets are composed of scrub oaks, rusty lyonia, and a variety of lichens. Wildflowers consist of scrub mint and garberia,.
For those that are interested, you may also want to visit The Nectary, a native plant nursery in Lakeland, on your way home. 1047 East Main Street, Lakeland FL. https://www.thenectarylkld.com

Directions:

Directions to Circle B Bar Reserve: 4399 Winter Lake Rd.
Lakeland, FL 3380:  circlebbarreservemap  

From the Polk Parkway: Exit No. 10, then turn south on U.S. 98 (Bartow Road). From U.S. 98, turn east on Winter Lake Road (State Road 540) and travel about 2 miles to the reserve's entrance on the south side of the road.

Questions? Email Becky Clayton at raclayton01@yahoo.com  or text or call 813-416-5672.

 

May Field Trip

May Field Trip:  EcoTour Boat Trip on Tampa Bay with Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center.

Date and Time: Thursday, May 16, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm

Meet at Gate 23 on the St. Pete Pier at 11:15 so we can leave by 11:30. (See below for more detailed info below about where to meet and parking.)

Come prepared with a hat, sunscreen, and water. Wear appropriate clothing for the weather.

Bring a bag lunch to eat on the boat.

Cost: $17 per person.  

The trip is limited to 45 people.  There will be sign up sheet and you can pay at the April or May meeting or contact Jonnie Spitler jspitler1120@gmail.com    Please limit guests to 2 people. 

The boat is wheelchair accessible upon request. Please contact Becky Clayton.

 

Description: 

We will explore the Tampa Bay ecosystem with marine science educators from Tampa Bay Watch’s Discovery Center.  The USCG-certified eco-vessel is big enough for 45 people. We will do some wildlife watching, learn about the area’s history and a fisheries trawl will enable us to take a closer look at common local species. Frequent sightings from the boat include dolphins, manatees, birds, stingrays, and more.

 

A nonprofit organization founded in 1993, Tampa Bay Watch leads habitat restoration and protection activities throughout the year. Thousands of volunteers contribute their time to help the bay recover from environmental challenges and ensure its long-term health.

All proceeds support Tampa Bay Watch's mission to foster a healthy Tampa Bay watershed through community-driven restoration projects, education programs, and outreach initiatives.

 If you would like to visit the Discovery Center after the tour, the exhibit gallery features interactive displays, live animals, and a touch tank. Admission is $8 for adults, $3 for children and $6 for seniors. There is also a gift shop for those that are interested.

 

Getting there and parking:

The physical address for the pier is 700 2nd Ave. NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.   If arriving via I-275, follow the interstate signs and exit onto I-375. I-375 becomes 4th Avenue North and guests should follow that to the end where it forms a T with Beach Drive. If you want to avoid some traffic, consider taking a left on Beach Drive, then a right on 5th Avenue North and a right on Bayshore Drive. You will find the Pier entrance at the next left.  

 

When you arrive, you may park in any available parking space on the pier, they recommend either the Dolphin Lot or the Pelican Lot (see map below). All parking on the pier is paid parking. Once you arrive, you can walk toward the spot on the map below titled "Eco-Vessel Launch". Their eco-vessel team will be there and ready to set sail at 11:30am. 

They recommend we arrive at least 30 minutes in advance at 11:00 to find parking and walk to the boat to ensure we are ready for an 11:30am departure.

Questions:  Email Becky Clayton at raclayton01@yahoo.com or text or call 813-416-5672.

Past Field Trips

March, 2024 Field Trip

March Field Trip: Jumping Gully Preserve 

Date and Time: Saturday, March 30, 2024,  9:00 am

Meeting Location:  18823 Fishburne Dr, Spring Hill. We will meet the field trip leaders at the gate. 

Come prepared with good closed toed walking shoes, a hat, sunscreen, and water. Wear appropriate clothing for the weather.

Join us for this special opportunity to visit and hike Pasco County’s Jumping Gully Preserve, located northeast of Crews Lake and in a designated Ecological Corridor. The Preserve is not open to the public and we are able to visit with our field trip leaders from the Environmental Land Acquisition and Management Program (ELAMP). The Preserve was purchased in 2009 and 2011 with funds raised through the voter-approved Penny for Pasco sales tax that dedicates 25% of the county’s share of funds raised to environmental lands purchases. Originally passed in 2004, the program continues to have strong support from residents.

The Preserve includes a restoration project to transform cattle pastures back to their original sandhill and dry prairie ecosystem. The property provides habitat to a variety of species including an abundance of sandhill cranes, wild turkey, and gopher tortoises. We will visit habitats including wet prairie, improved pasture, and oak hammock. One of the highlights will be stopping on the berm that cuts through the historic lake bed of Crews Lake to view the vast expanse of protected land. There will be opportunities to see a variety of upland and wetland native plant communities and learn about the progress and successes of the project.

Our Field Trip Leaders will be:

Ryan Long, is the Land Management Coordinator for Pasco County’s Environmental Land Acquisition and Management Program (ELAMP). He graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy. Ryan began his career with the County in 2016 as the Biologist for the program. Given Ryan’s passion for the environment and local conservation, being Land Management Coordinator hardly feels like a job, but more of an opportunity to make a difference. During his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family at different Preserves or on their boat in the Gulf. 

Taylor Hays-Lankford, is the Biologist I for Pasco County’s Environmental Land Acquisition and Management Program (ELAMP). She graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy and is currently enrolled as a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in the same program. Taylor began her career with the program as a Biological Technician I in 2021 and has been able to put her passion for conservation into practice. When Taylor is not at work, she enjoys going on hikes with her friends and learning about local ecology. 

René Wiesner Brown, PhD, is the former Natural Resources Manager for Pasco County and was the first Environmental Lands Program Manager when ELAMP began operations in 2005. René was involved in the early negotiations to protect Jumping Gully and will provide some of that history. She is currently the Senior Director of Habitat Restoration for the nonprofit Ecosphere Restoration Institute and is involved in numerous habitat restoration projects around Tampa Bay and in seagrass restoration around the State. She also works in climate change science and policy and is an appointed member of the Expert Review Group of the UN’s Race to Resilience. 

Directions from Heritage Park Community Center: 

Head north on US-41 N/Land O' Lakes Blvd for 11.2 miles.  Turn left onto Winding Creek Drive and then continue onto Bakersfield Drive. Turn left onto Craigs Wy/Fishburne Dr for 1.2 miles. The gate will be on the right. 

If you have questions or need to contact me, please call or text 813-416-5672 or email raclayton01@yahoo.com  Becky Clayton

raclayton01@yahoo.com

 

February  Field Trip: USF Botanical Gardens

Date and Time: Saturday, February 24, 2024,  9:30 am

Meeting Location:  12210 USF Pine Drive, Tampa, FL 33612

(Intersection of USF Pine and Alumni Drives.) 

Meet in the parking lot of the Gardens.

Come prepared with good walking shoes, a hat, sunscreen, and water. Wear appropriate clothing for the weather.

Tour cost: $6.00 per person, payable on entry

Field Trip Leader: 

Craig Huegel, who became  the new USF Botanical Garden Director in August 2022, has a rather broad professional background in west-central Florida starting in 1987.   He co-founded the Urban Wildlife Cooperative Extension program at the University of Florida and then became the first manager of Pinellas County’s Brooker Creek Preserve for 12 years.  Since then, he has worked as an environmental consultant, started his own consulting company, and taught biology at St. Petersburg and Tampa College.

Craig has an M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin and a PhD in Animal Ecology from Iowa State University. He also has loved and grown plants since early childhood and manages a small native wildflower nursery out of his home called Hawthorn Hill. Craig has authored six books on native plants and wildlife and writes two popular blogs related to plants and gardening.

Description:

We will follow up the Craig’s presentation at our February meeting with a tour with Craig of the various gardens within the USF Botanical Gardens with a focus on their native plant collection. Currently, they have about 200 species of native woody plants. They also have a developing native wildflower meadow with about 50 species of native grasses and wildflowers, a scrub which contains several dozen scrub species and 3 pitcher plant bogs. They’ve added a littoral planting along the edge of Lake Behnke and a South Florida woody plant area. In addition to these gardens there is also a wide diversity of natives scattered throughout the Gardens which we will visit. 

https://www.usf.edu/arts-sciences/botanical-gardens/

 Directions:

12210 USF Pine Drive, Tampa, FL 33612.  Intersection of USF Pine and Alumni Drives. 

From 1-275: Take Fowler Avenue Exit. Head east to Bruce B.Downs Blvd./30th Street and turn left. Go north one block to Pine Drive (1st light) and turn right. Go east one block to the first traffic light and turn left. Go north one block to the Garden entrance on left at the intersection with Alumni Drive.

From I-75: Take Fowler Avenue Exit. Head west to Bruce B. Downs Blvd./30th Street and turn right. Go one block north to Pine Drive (1st light) and turn right. Follow Pine to left and Garden entrance is on left at the intersection with Alumni Drive.

Questions?  Email Becky Clayton at raclayton01@yahoo.com  or text or call 813-416-5672.

Becky Clayton

raclayton01@yahoo.com

 

January, 2024 Field Trip

January Field Trip: Hike in Colt Creek State Park

Date and Time: Saturday, January 27, 2024,  9.30 a.m.

Meeting Location: Colt Creek State Park parking lot

16000 State Road 471 
Lakeland, FL 33809 

$4 per vehicle - limit 8 people per vehicle

Come prepared with good walking/hiking closed toed shoes, a hat, bug spray, sunscreen, and water. Wear appropriate clothing for the weather.

Bring a picnic lunch to eat after the hike or stop in Dade City for lunch on your way home.

Field Trip Leader: 

Heather Coleman is the Park Services Specialist at Colt Creek State Park. Heather was born and raised in Kissimmee, Florida. She graduated from Florida Southern College in 2017 with a BA in Environmental Studies. As the Park Services Specialist, Heather is the volunteer coordinator and interpretive chairperson for the park. She loves sharing her passion for the outdoors through her work. When she is not working, Heather likes to spend time with her husband, one year old baby, and family exploring the real Florida either hiking, biking, or paddle boarding.  

Description:

We will follow up Heather’s presentation at our January monthly meeting with a guided hike at Colt Creek State Park.  This State Park includes more than 5,000 acres of large strands of vulnerable longleaf pine flatwoods, lakes and winding creeks, thick cypress domes and open vistas.  Butting up to the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve East Tract and Hampton Tract. The Park is home to many species of plants and animals including bald eagles, white-tailed deer, American alligators, otters, many birds and butterflies several threatened species such as the gopher tortoise and the Sherman’s fox squirrel. There is also a heavy arrival of migrating birds at this time of year. The ranger will guide us through the pine flatwoods trail which is relatively flat with a grassy cover growth and some uneven terrain, roots and exposed limestone while explaining the history of of the Park.

Park Brochure:

https://www.floridastateparks.org/sites/default/files/media/file/clt-brochure.pdf

November Field Trip

November Field Trip: Vista Gardens Tour

Date and Time: Saturday, November 18, 2023,  9:30 a.m.

Meeting Location: 13572 South Village Drive, Tampa, FL 33618 

Wear good walking, closed toed shoes, and sunscreen. Bring a hat and water.

Field Trip Leader: Roberta Owens, M.Ed., is the manager of VISTA’S Wildflower Garden and guided its development.  She focused on professional and program development, communication, and creativity during her 40+ year career in Early Childhood Education.  She relocated to Florida in 2016 excited about gardening year around and joined a community garden, VISTA Gardens, near her home. Having learned the importance of companion planting to successful vegetable gardening, it became her mission to develop native plant gardens surrounding the raised beds to attract beneficial insects and wildlife. 

 

VISTA (Village Institute for Sustainable Technologies and Agriculture) Gardens,  founded in 2008, is a community garden in the Carrolwood area of North Tampa where members grow vegetables and flowers for families and neighbors.  Approximately 75 percent of all food crops grown in the United State depend on pollinating animals. VISTA developed Florida native plant gardens north, south, east and west of the vegetable gardens to support beneficial insect populations for the flowers and vegetables. The Pollinator Gardens at VISTA have successfully aided in producing ample crops for the 65 raised garden beds while providing a demonstration garden for education about the benefits of Florida native plants.

 

VISTA’s Wildflower Garden now has over 50 varieties of Florida native plants and is one of 12 Viva Florida Landscape Demonstration grants awarded by the Florida Wildflower Foundation in 2021. Vista was also awarded a commendation in 2022 by the Hillsborough County Commission for its dedication to enhancing the community’s natural beauty and environmental prosperity.  

 

The field trip will be our opportunity to see the tour community garden while Roberta and other garden volunteers answer our questions and guide us through the development of the plantings and discuss their successes and challenges.

 

Directions: From Heritage Park Community Center head south on Land O’ Lakes Blvd (U.S. 41S.) for 3.4 miles to  Dale Mabry Highway (FL597S) and follow it for 7.8 miles. Turn right on Ehrlich Rd. And then turn left onto S. Village Dr.  Please read the note from Roberta below.

 

Note: VISTA Gardens is located at 13572 South Village Drive, Tampa, FL 33618 in the Carrollwood Village neighborhood.  As they are "off the grid," Google is sometimes not helpful. The Colonnade Senior Living Center, 13550 S Village, and Village Towers condominium community, 1 3608 S Village Drive, surround VISTA Gardens to the east and west respectively.   

Parking is available just inside the gate. 

 

Questions?  Email Becky Clayton at raclayton01@yahoo.com  or text or call 

813-416-5672.

October Field Trip

Title/Topic:    Return to Janet Butterfield Brooks Wildlife and Environmental Area (WEA)
When:            Saturday, October 14th @ 9am
Where:           15478 Bailey Hill Rd, Brooksville, FL 34614 

Meeting Location: We will meet at the south entrance of the WEA (comprised of a vehicle sized gate) along Bailey Hill Road. There is no address for this entrance, use the address for the residence directly across from the entrance for navigation purposes.  15478 Bailey Hill Rd, Brooksville, FL 34614 which is 0.3 miles west of Citrus Way.  Park along the North side of Bailey Hill Road as far off the road as you can manage. 

What to wear: Good walking, closed toed shoes, and sunscreen. Bring a hat, water, bug repellant and a snack. There are no restrooms at Janet Butterfield, so please plan accordingly. 

Note: For those that are interested we can have lunch at a spot in Brooksville on our way home.

Field Trip Leader: Hanna Brinkley, Director, Chinsegut Conservation Center, FWC

We are going back!  We are very fortunate that Hanna has invited us along with the Hernando Chapter to return to the The  Janet Butterfield Brooks WEA in October.  October is one of the best times of the year to see wildflowers and it should be spectacular.  If you missed the trip in May don’t miss this opportunity.

This property is restricted to FWC staff for management and research purposes in accordance with the restrictions in the deed of donation. While the deed of donation restricts land use and general public access is not allowed, the property can be used for educational purposes under FWC supervision. Inviting groups like FNPS to go on hikes is one way FWC can expand use and enjoyment of the area while respecting the terms of the deed.

The hike is just under 2 miles along sandy and somewhat uneven terrain and is . moderate in duration and difficulty.  Our focus will be the mosaic of upland species that call the preserve home, and the fall blooms.  The Nature Conservancy managed the preserve starting in 1974 and transferred it to FWC in 2005. 

Janet Butterfield Brooks WEA encompasses approximately 319 acres in Hernando County and has some of the area’s last tracts of older growth longleaf pine sandhill forests and hardwood hammocks. The vast mix of mesic hammock, upland hardwood forest and bottomland forest found here provides important wildlife habitat for key sandhill species including gopher tortoises,  southeastern American kestrels and many sandhill dwelling plants beneath the towering longleaf pines. The WEA is part of the southernmost extent of the unique Annutteliga Hammock which hold clay laden soils, karst topography and limestone at or near the soil surface. It also includes both southern and northern limits of many plant species.

Directions:  From Heritage Park, Land O’ Lakes, Head north on Land O' Lakes Blvd/US Hwy 41 N for 23.4 miles to Cortez Blvd. Turn left on Cortez for 1.5 miles then go straight past the Hardee’s and onto Cobb Rd. Travel 1.8 miles and turn left onto Fort Dade Ave and then in 2.9 miles right on to Citrus Way. Turn left onto Bailey Hill Road and travel .3 miles to the site. Park along the North side of Bailey Hill Road as far off the road as you can manage. We will meet near the gate.

Questions?  Email Becky Clayton at raclayton01@yahoo.com  or text  or call 813-416-5672. 

September, 2023 Field Trip

September Field Trip:  Chassahowitzka River Paddle 

Date and Time: Monday, September 18, meet at 8:45 am  (Rain day is Tuesday Sept 19th)

Location: Chassahowitzka River Campground 8600 W. Miss Maggie Dr. Homosassa, FL 34448 

Wear:  A bathing suit, water shoes, sunscreen and a hat. Bring a lunch or snacks and plenty of water. 

Fees: $5.00 parking fee for everyone. $7.00 with a trailer.

Bring your own or rent from the campground. 

Please call the Campground directly at 352-382-2200 for kayak, canoe or boat rental reservations 

 

Kayaks - $35/Day plus tax

Two person kayaks - $45/Day plus tax

Mad River canoe - $45/Day plus tax

Jon boats - $50/Day plus tax

Paddleboards - $50/Day plus tax

The Chaz is an easy river to kayak and is a favorite spot.  It can be very crowded on weekends which is why we will going on a weekday. This spring-fed River is named an Outstanding Florida Waterway for its pristine, natural condition. The springs and the wildlife make it very special.  As part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, there is much bird-watching (over 250 species) and wildlife viewing including alligators, manatees, raccoons, otters, deer and more. We will relax and take our time to paddle to some of the springs; Seven Sisters, Crab Creek, Potters, Little and Big Salt or up Baird Creek to Blue Spring and a beautiful spot, The Crack. 

Directions: head up US 19 past SR 50 towards Homosassa. Turn left (west) on Miss Maggie Dr, across from Sugarmill Woods, head west 1.7 miles to the campground/camp store.


Past Field Trips

May Field Trip

May Field Trip:  A Special Invitation to Hike Janet Butterfield Brooks Wildlife and Environmental Area (WEA) 

Hosted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)

Date and Time: Saturday, May 13, 9:00 a.m.

Meeting Location: We will meet at the south entrance of the WEA (comprised of a vehicle sized gate) along Bailey Hill Road. There is no address for this entrance, use the address for the residence directly across from the entrance for navigation purposes.  15478 Bailey Hill Rd, Brooksville, FL 34614 which is 0.3 miles west of Citrus Way.  Park along the North side of Bailey Hill Road as far off the road as you can manage.

Wear good walking, closed toed shoes, and sunscreen. Bring a hat, water, bug repellant and a snack.There are no restrooms at Janet Butterfield, so please plan accordingly. 

Note: For those that are interested we can have lunch at a spot in Brooksville on our way home.

We are very fortunate that the Hernando Chapter NPS has invited us to join them in a rare opportunity to explore the The Janet Butterfield Brooks WEA in May.  This property is restricted to FWC staff for management and research purposes in accordance with the restrictions in the deed of donation. While the deed of donation restricts land use and general public access is not allowed, the property can be used for educational purposes under FWC supervision. Inviting groups like FNPS to go on hikes is one way FWC can expand use and enjoyment of the area while respecting the terms of the deed.

The hike will be led by FWC staff from Chinsegut’s Conservation Center. The hike will be moderate in duration and difficulty, and our focus will be the mosaic of upland species that call the preserve home, as well as the land management strategies that support them. Janet Butterfield has been burned in some areas this winter and should be putting on fresh new growth this spring. The hike is just under 2 miles along sandy and somewhat uneven terrain.  The Nature Conservancy managed the preserve starting in 1974 and transferred it to FWC in 2005. 

Janet Butterfield Brooks WEA encompasses approximately 319 acres in Hernando County and has some of the area’s last tracts of older growth longleaf pine sandhill forests and hardwood hammocks. The vast mix of mesic hammock, upland hardwood forest and bottomland forest found here provides important wildlife habitat for key sandhill species including gopher tortoises,  southeastern American kestrels and many sandhill dwelling plants beneath the towering longleaf pines. The WEA is part of the southernmost extent of the unique Annutteliga Hammock which hold clay laden soils, karst topography and limestone at or near the soil surface. It also includes both southern and northern limits of many plant species.

Directions:  From Heritage Park, Land O’ Lakes, Head north on Land O' Lakes Blvd/US Hwy 41 N for 23.4 miles to Cortez Blvd. Turn left on Cortez for 1.5 miles then go straight past the Hardee’s and onto Cobb Rd. Travel 1.8 miles and turn left onto Fort Dade Ave and then in 2.9 miles right on to Citrus Way. Turn left onto Bailey Hill Road and travel .3 miles to the site. Park along the North side of Bailey Hill Road as far off the road as you can manage. We will meet near the gate.

Questions?  Email Becky Clayton at raclayton01@yahoo.com  or text  or call 813-416-5672

April Field Trip

April Field Trip:  Native Plant Hike in Croom

Date and Time: Saturday, April 15, 9:00 a.m.

Location: 26578 Croom Road (Forest Road 6), Brooksville, FL 34601

 Tucker Hill Day Use Area,  Croom Tract, Withlacoochee State Forest

 Wear: good walking, closed toed shoes, and sunscreen.  

Bring a hat, water, bug repellant  and a snack.

There are restrooms and picnic table on site.  You can bring a lunch to eat on the or we can have lunch at a spot in Brooksville on our way home.

Field Trip Leader: Colleen Werner, Biologist, Withlacoochee State Forest

The Withlacoochee State Forest (WSF) encompasses 164,073 acres in Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Pasco, Sumter counties and is the third largest state forest in Florida. The WSF is divided into several distinct tracts of land including the Croom Tract, which is located in Hernando and Sumter counties, with over 20,000 acres.   WSF protects one of the largest patches of sandhill habitat remaining in Florida. There is also a historic cemetery at the Tucker Hill Day Use Area. 

Among the familiar turkey oaks, live oaks, and pines within the sandhill habitat, an impressive variety of vegetation thrives despite the arid soil conditions. We will begin our hike with Colleen at a mesic hammock where we will see Pecluma ptilota (Comb Polypody). Next we will walk through sandhill habitat and will be visiting a red-cockaded woodpecker cluster where we might get lucky enough to see the birds. The lupines usually begin blooming in March so there’s a chance we will see some of the blue flowers and other wildflowers, plants and wildlife.  

https://www.plantrealflorida.org/plant-communities/detail/sandhills-zone-9

https://www.fnai.org/PDFs/NC/Sandhill_Final_2010.pdf

Colleen Werner is a Biologist Scientist II at the Withlacoochee State Forest.  She has been at the WSF for 22 years and has the lead role for management of rare flora, karst resources and cultural resources. She also assists the WSF Ecology Unit with prescribed burns, invasive weed control and rare fauna management.  Colleen has a B.S. in Environmental Botany from USF. 

Directions:  26578 Croom Road (Forest Road 6), Brooksville, FL 34601

From Brooksville head north on U.S, Highway 41 to Croom Road (C-480). Take a right and proceed east on Croom Road to trailhead at Tucker Hill Day Use Area.

Questions?  Email Becky Clayton at raclayton01@yahoo.com  or text  or call 813-416-5672 with any questions.

                                                                                                                                       

March Field Trip

March Field Trip: Talk and Walk at Upper Tampa Bay Conservation Park

Date and Time: Saturday, March 18, 9:30 a.m.

Location:  Upper Tampa Bay Conservation Park 

8001 Double Branch Rd.

Tampa, FL 33635

Meet:  At the Environmental Education Center 

Cost: $2 per car up to 8 people

Bring a hat, water, bug spray and wear sunscreen and good walking shoes.   If it’s been rainy some of the trails might be wet so wear shoes you don’t might getting wet. 

Need a Ride?  Willing to drive? Let me know I’ll try to match you up. 

Lunch: See below 

Field Trip Leader:  Joel Jackson 

Hillsborough County founded the Upper Tampa Bay Conservation Park in 1982 saving the environmentally sensitive terrain from potential being reconfigured into a waterfront subdivision.  It now provides a protected area for nature study and passive recreation. The 596-acre peninsular park hugs the bay’s northern shoreline and protects valuable coastal habitat and ecological communities that include mangrove forests, salt marshes, freshwater marshes, oyster beds, coastal hammocks, and pine flatwoods. 

We will start the morning in the Environmental Education Center to view the interpretive exhibits that describe the park environment, history, and geology, and live animal displays. Joel will provide a short presentation and then we will head out on the trails and boardwalk.  There are three short, easy nature trails – the Eagle, the Otter, and the Bobcat – each explores different aspects of the park’s ecosystems. Gopher tortoises, zebra swallowtail butterflies, and bobcats live here.  Red shouldered hawks and bald eagles are sometimes seen near the live oaks and other hardwood trees near the wetlands. The shoreline and waters attract park other wildlife and many other species, including Roseate spoonbills, ospreys, otters, bottle nosed dolphins, and manatees.  There should be lots wildflowers blooming in March. 

Joel Jackson is a lifelong resident of the Tampa area, served in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer and graduated from USF with both Bachelor and Master’s degrees.  He was the first park and recreation planner for the City of Tampa and managed Hillsborough County’s $10 million park bond program to design and develop six nature parks for the county including Lettuce Lake Park.  When he became the City of Tampa parks grounds manager he drafted the guidelines for a program to purchase environmental lands for Hillsborough County (ELAPP) which to date has acquired over 63,000 acres of conservations lands. His last position was Hillsborough County’s manager for park planning, design, and development. Joel is a 41-year member of the Florida Native Plant Society, a member of Tampa Audubon Society and has received both the FNPS 2016 “Green Palmetto” award for public service and SWFWMD’s 2020 “Water Wise” award for Pasco County.  His hobbies are Photography and making Bluebird nesting boxes.

Extra Activities after the hike:  

Kayaking or canoeing.  If you want to further explore the creek and bay, bring your kayak or canoe or rent one from the park after the hike. Canoes and kayaks can be rented on site at the entry station.  $25 for up to 4 hours. Paddling trail maps are available at the entry station 

 Fishing is welcome along the shoreline. 

 There are picnic tables and shelter available if you bring your lunch or there are many good restaurants close by to eat.

If you have questions or need to contact me please call or text 813-416-5672.  

Becky Clayton

 

February Field Trip - Edibles in the Wild

Location: Aripeka Sandhills Preserve

18000 Aripeka Road
Hudson, FL 34667

Date and Time: Saturday, February 18, 2023 10:00 am

Field Trip guide: Valerie Anderson, Director of Communications and Programming, FNPS

Valerie will follow up her presentation at our February meeting with a field trip to the Apripeka Sandhills Preserve.  She will primarily focus on learning to identify our native blueberries in the offseason. Valerie will point out habitat for chanterelles and boletes (edible mushrooms). We will also discuss and find edible native mints and other native plants.

The  Preserve was acquired as part of the Weekiwachee Preserve on November 8, 2007. This was a joint acquisition with the Southwest Florida Water Management District and Pasco County. The funding from Pasco County was provided by Penny for Pasco. The preserve is managed by the Southwest Florida Water Management District as a part of a regional system of conservation lands that extends up to Crystal River Buffer Preserve, preserving the southernmost coastal hardwood hammock in western Florida. As part of this large preserve, Aripeka Sandhills preserves important habitat communities such as dense hardwood swamps and pine-covered sandhills

Valerie Anderson is the second-full time staff person for FNPS, hired in September 2018 as the Director of Communications & Programming. She runs the virtual FNPS educational programming and assists with many aspects of running FNPS. She lives in Kissimmee with her wife and two dogs, where she is active in her local chapter (Pine Lily), botanizes, lifts weights, and does sprint triathlon.

Directions:  

From Heritage Park in Land O’ Lakes. Head north on Land O' Lakes Blvd/US Hwy 41 N for 6.5 miles to State Rd 52 W and turn left. Travel for 1.9 miles and turn right on to Shady Hills Rd for 4.7 miles.  Turn left onto Peace Blvd/Platinum Dr and continue to follow Peace Blvd for 2.9 mi. Continue onto Denton Ave for 3.7 miles. Turn left onto Little Rd for .7 miles.  Use the right 2 lanes to turn right onto US-19 N. Stay on US 19 for 1.3 miles then turn left onto State Hwy 595.  The destination will be on the right.

Becky Clayton call or text 813-416-5672 or raclayton01@yahoo.com with questions.

 

January 2023 Field Trip - Walking Tour of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Location:  Marie Selby Gardens, Downtown Campus

1534 Mount Street

Sarasota, FL. 34236

https:selby.org/visit/

Date and Time:  Saturday, January 14, 2023 9:30am

Cost:  $18 per person for tour and general admission

Meet at Paynes Mansion Gate at 9:15 to center by 9:30

West good walking shoes, a hat and sunscreen

Sign up with Becky Clayton or Jonnie Spitler at the January meeting or call/email Jonnie.  Pay by Thursday, January 12 to reserve your spot. 

The mission of the Florida Native Plant Society is to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida.