Saturday, October 19, 2013

Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve

Ellie Schuler Environmental Education Center
On Friday October 18th, 2013, I attended a presentation at the Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve facility near Yankeetown, Florida. The program was about rebuilding the coastal environment via re-establishing sea grasses, mangroves and oyster beds.
Attendees were students from the University of Florida College of Law, and local residents. The program was put on by Florida Sea Grant personnel and UF College of Wetland professors.

We received instruction on plant identification, and the methods being used around the State of Florida in regards to re-seeding oyster bars, and re-establishing mangroves.

Part of the programming included a botany blitz where teams of attendees went out into the coastal /upland interface habitat and collected plant specimens for later identification. There were numerous plants in their fall bloom. Yellow, pink, and white were the main flower colors observed.

Coastal Oak Hammock
Golden Rods
Groundsel Bush
There were other plants in bloom of which I didn't have my camera with me on the initial field walk in order to take pictures. After the class room sessions and botany collecting, there was a paddle tour leading out from the onsite dock. Tides are real critical at this launch site, with the optimal times being during the flood or higher tides to provide plenty of water in the shallow creeks.

The coastal, tidal marsh creeks are one of my favorite areas to paddle. This is in part due to the fluctuating water levels, ebbing and flowing with the ever changing tides bringing different experiences.
Looking Northwest out onto the Gulf of Mexico, with abundant marsh vegetation, islands in the distance and tidal creeks galore. View from the top of the 35 foot observation tower.
The Observation Tower
The Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve is open during day light hours only, and is a great place to get out and explore another unique type of Florida habitat.
Something new around the next bend!

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