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Go Wild!

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Wilderness Experiences

Go Wild!

Wilderness experiences are good for the mind, body and soul.

By Jay Exum

Jay is a featured columnist on environmental issues for 2017 editions of Seminole Magazine.

Wilderness. The very word conjures mixed emotions, particularly in our ever-urbanizing world. Is the term positive? Does it connote a place where you would go to experience a variety of wildlife, exquisite natural scenery and true peace? Or is frightening? Is the idea of exploring a wilderness area so inherently dangerous, so remote, so unrelatable that you wouldn’t consider it without a satellite phone and an emergency support team?

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Rock Springs Run

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Rock Springs Run

Paddling Rock Springs Run to Wekiwa Springs State Park, immersed in the essence of a spring-fed river

By Jay Exum

Jay is a featured columnist on environmental issues for 2017 editions of Seminole Magazine.

It is particularly alluring for an ecologist to float Rock Springs Run, a flow-way that is an integral part of the Wekiva river system. But you don’t need to be an expert in water quality or wildlife habitat to be enthralled by the beauty you’ll encounter on a canoe trip along this invaluable central Florida waterway. The experience is wonderful in and of itself—with its clear waters, constant flow and picturesque scenery—but there is even more substance than style in the 5-hour jaunt to Wekiwa Springs State Park or the privately owned Wekiva Island. This stretch is powered by the clear, spring-fed flow from Rock Springs, and it courses through mature forested canopies on state-owned land managed for native biological diversity.

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Bears in the Neighborhood

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Bears in the Neighborhood

The black bear’s remarkable resurgence in Florida has caused challenges for Seminole County homeowners.

By Jay Exum

Jay is a featured columnist on environmental issues for 2017 editions of Seminole Magazine.

The Florida black bear (Ursus americanus floridanus) has probably been the subject of more conversations, controversies, protests and political discussions in the last 5 years than in the previous 200. The bear is an iconic animal: on the one hand feared as a vicious predator, and on the other hand, the mascot of a sluggish economy. Bears are enigmatic in that they epitomize wildness and serve as a keystone species for mature, interconnected, natural landscapes. But, as we know from extensive news coverage over the last 5 years, particularly here in Seminole County, bears have infiltrated some of our neighborhoods, trespassed in our garages and, unfortunately, attacked people and dogs.

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June 17, 2017 – Wetland Ecology Field Course

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JUNE 17, 2017 – WETLAND ECOLOGY FIELD COURSE

The Friends of the Wekiva River is offering a new way to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the Wekiva Basin. This new opportunity will consist of six lessons over the next year. It will encompass various aspects of the unique ecology of the Wekiva system including a focus on springs, the river and its tributaries, unique wildlife and unique habitats. These field classes will consist of an approximately three-hour trip during all four seasons of the year. Wildlife Ecologist, Jay Exum, Ph.D., will  be the instructor.

The first class, Wetland Ecology, will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday June 17. 2017 at Seminole State Forest. Cost for the full course is $100.00 or $25.00 for individual classes. Preregistration is required. Space is limited.  Call 407-788-2619 for more information.

Meet: 7:00 p.m. SSF Bear Pond Parking Lot off SR 46.
Entrance fee: $2.00/person
 

 

August 19, 2017 – Wetland Ecology Field Course

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AUGUST 19, 2017 - SPRING ECOLOGY FIELD COURSE

The Friends of the Wekiva River is offering a new way to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the Wekiva Basin. This new opportunity will consist of six lessons over the next year. It will encompass various aspects of the unique ecology of the Wekiva system including a focus on springs, the river and its tributaries, unique wildlife and unique habitats. These field classes will consist of an approximately three-hour trip during all four seasons of the year. Wildlife Ecologist, Jay Exum, Ph.D., will  be the instructor.

Explore the frog diversity of Seminole State Forest (SSF) on a night walk. During rainy season the isolated wetlands of SSF become alive with the breeding activities of up to 10 species of frogs. Learn about frogs, their required habitats, and how to identify.

The second class, Spring Ecology, will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday August 19, 2017 at Seminole State Forest. Cost for the full course is $100.00 or $25.00 for individual classes. Preregistration is required. Space is limited.  Call 407-788-2619 for more information.

Meet: 7:00 p.m. at the Bear Lake Trailhead at the parking lot about 1/4 mile north of State Road 46 (the road to the trailhead is about ½ mile from the Wekiva River)
Entrance fee: $2.00/person
  
 
 

March 2018 – Wekiva Revealed CampOut

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March 2018 - Wekiva Revealed CampOut

Stay a weekend at Wekiwa Springs State Park in cabins and be treated to a host of activities — night hikes, nature photography, campfires, guided canoeing and birdwatching. Learn the secrets of the springs and what plants you can eat for survival. All activities, cabins and food included for one bargain price. Call 407-788-2619 or email FriendsWekivaRiver@gmail.com.  Download this form to register:  [NEED TO ADD DOWNLOAD FORM]   Flyer: [NEED TO ADD FLYER]  Activity Details: [NEED TO ADD ACTIVITIES LIST]

CampOut Registration and Payment DEADLINE November 1st.

January 7, 2017 – Hike to Hidden Springs of Seminole State Forest

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January 7, 2017 - Hike to Hidden Springs of Seminole State Forest

Park Biologist, Ralph Risch, Park Ranger, Mike Martin and author and naturalist, Bill Belleville opened the morning with an introduction to the hidden springs of Seminole State Forest.

Twenty-five undeterred hikers, wearing various forms of rain gear from ponchos to black trash bags pilled into 4 wheel drive vehicles and headed out to personally discover hidden springs in SSF.

To see Helena Springs we trekked along a long narrow path bordered by low-growing palmettos.  We slowly descended to the wetter ground and entered a hardwood hammock.  There, before us, appeared a crystal clear pond. As we looked down we could see not only our reflection but the boil that was releasing the underground water.

In the other springs we saw the water flowing out of the rocks, forming a stream that would eventually empty into Blackwater Creek, the Wekiva River, the St Johns and finally into the Atlantic Ocean.

The morning was a gift… The group shared their interest in coming out in spite of the dismal forecast. The forest was glistening after the rain, the air, so fresh it should have been bottled!  Imagination and curiosity were stimulated. What happened thousands of years before our feet touched this ground..and the ever gnawing question,”How can I help to protect it? What is my part?”

Central Florida’s Version of Winter is Upon Us

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What’s going on in the Woods of the Wekiva? January, 2016 edition

Central Florida’s version of winter is upon us. Like the other seasons, there are plenty of signs that winter is here, but this winter is not necessarily evident in colder temperatures and low humidity with no precipitation. In fact, we have mostly experienced just the opposite during this winter.

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