Conservation 2020 Guided Walk Series 2015-2016
Many years ago, in 1995 to be exact, a group of concerned Southwest Florida residents realized that Lee County had a significantly low percentage of lands preserved to protect the natural Florida habitat. They formed a grass roots effort to preserve portions of Lee County which were being developed at a remarkably fast rate. Conservation 2020 was born and eventually became a tax payer funded program that, in a nutshell, had a goal to preserve twenty percent of Lee County land by the year 2020.
The majority of the preserved lands, to date, offer some sort of public access. There are a handful of the preserves that offer a higher level of access, often with ADA boardwalk access and restroom facilities on site. These great preserves have made the list for this winter’s Conservation 2020 Guided Walk Series.
Whether you’re a local simply looking for like-minded folks to enjoy nature with or you are looking for something creative for your winter visitors to do, the guided walk series is guaranteed free entertainment and a free education nature primer. It will run nearly every Saturday morning this winter. If you’ve been a regular reader of this column you may recognize the names of the preserves on the list; Prairie Pines, Caloosahatchee Creeks East, Wild Turkey Strand, Pine Island Flatwood, Powell Creek and Galt Preserve.
There are a total of six preserve parks on the guided walk rotation schedule so you’ll be certain have more than one opportunity to attend a guided walk at most of the locations. You will only get one shot at Powell Creek, however. It’s actually one of my favorite preserves mostly because it’s a successful example of a man-made filter marsh which drastically improves water quality before the runoff enters into the river. It’s also just down the street from Harriet and M15, the celebrity nesting eagles so be sure to take your camera.
The guided walks are a great opportunity for both novice and expert to mingle and learn from each other. There are generally a few dozen participants at each event. Master Gardeners and Master Naturalist volunteers lead the tours and share a wealth of knowledge about the wildlife, plant life and the individual parks, themselves. You’ll learn the basics from how to tell the difference between a palmetto and a sabal palm to identifying a variety of birds and wild flowers.
So far I’ve visited all of the preserves with exception of Pine Island Flatwood. This preserve just so happens to be on schedule the day after Christmas so if you’re looking for a great way to burn off the holiday festivity calories, mark your calendar. There’s a good chance that the Griffith clan will be there. If you make the trek you should also hit up Galt Preserve while you’re on Pine Island as it is just down the way.
All of the hikes are low impact and fairly easy. Consider them a great hiking choice for all ages. A few of the preserves are ADA accessible and pet friendly, too. You can learn more at www.Conservation2020.org. The walks are scheduled from 9:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m. There is no fee for parking or entry into any of the preserves. You can download the full guided walk schedule here: http://bit.ly/1Nt4ZyH.
Happy Trails and Boardwalks!
Special to Southwest Spotlight Magazines