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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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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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25th Annual Wekiva Christmas Bird Count, Saturday December 19th

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What’s going on in the Woods of the Wekiva? November, 2015 edition

25th Annual Wekiva Christmas Bird Count, Saturday December 19th – I’m going to devote the next two monthly articles to the Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). For this month, a little history and some encouragement for everyone interested in the natural environment in the Wekiva basin to participate in this year’s count. Next month, I will summarize some of the details of the Wekiva CBC – scheduled for Saturday December 19th.

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Yes, there is a fall season in Florida

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What’s going on in the Woods of the Wekiva? October, 2015 edition

Yes Irene, there is a fall season in Florida. Every year, my wife, Irene and I debate whether there is actually a fall season in Florida or whether it is mythical or a delusional state that I solely enjoy. Here in late October we are finally enjoying a break in temperature, and a slow-down in thundershowers and rainy afternoons that accompany summer weather patterns. However, for some people, cooling down to a daytime high of only 86° does not constitute a fall season. So, I have compiled a list of changes that are occurring that I hope will be a compelling argument for the wonderful nuances of fall in central Florida. For example:

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Summer rains and wetland hydrology

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What’s going on in the Woods of the Wekiva? September, 2015 edition

Summer rains and wetland hydrology – Over the last 2 to 3 months we’ve had expected deluges from summer rains and weather patterns associated with tropical storms. One group of vertebrates that particularly “anticipates” the relatively regular rains of Florida summers are the Anurans – the taxonomic Order that includes frogs and toads. I’m fond of spending early evenings near marshes and swamps listening to the calls of various species of frogs and toads.

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Adaptable Species

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What’s going on in the Woods of the Wekiva? July edition

Adaptable Species

Somewhat of an abbreviated article this month… In part this is because I have spent two of the last four weeks in other regions of the country. I can tell you more about what’s going on in the woods in Sequoia National Forest right now than in the Wekiva Basin. Which leads me to this month’s ecological tidbit. Read More…

Biological Diversity: Landscape Level Influences

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What’s going on in the Woods of the Wekiva? Early June addition

Biological Diversity: Landscape Level Influences

Last month’s walk through the Seminole State Forest caused me to reflect on the exceptional biological diversity in the Wekiva Basin. This diversity is influenced by the assemblage of various distinctive habitats and the plethora of organisms that are adapted to each one. Some of these can persist for millennia unaffected by the conditions of habitat surrounding them. More often than not though, landscape-level or regional influences affect plants and animals – even those that have relatively small home range or habitat needs. Read More…