Oakland Nature Preserve Needs Your Help
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
(Please click on red links & note magenta)
About 30 minutes (or 20 miles) West of Orlando, nestled between Winter Garden and Clermont, one may find the beautiful town of Oakland, Florida, with a hidden gem of 128 acres of Oakland Nature Preserve offering environmental education and ecotourism activities year-round, free of charge, for visitors of all ages. The preserve is composed of 128 acres of land, with 48 acres of uplands and 80 acres of forested wetlands, including a boardwalk to Lake Apopka and a classroom-sized pavilion on the lakefront and a pavilion on the West Orange Trail. In addition to providing a window to the ongoing restoration of Lake Apopka, the Preserve features diverse biological, geological, and topographical features, rapidly vanishing in Central Florida. The Preserve also offers recreational and educational opportunities in a living classroom, perfect for learning about the ecology of Florida.
If you haven’t visited yet, be sure to check out the wheelchair accessible Boardwalk at Oakland Nature Preserve to Lake Apopka. The Boardwalk is 2/3 mile long through mostly shaded wetlands, to a large, covered pavilion overlooking Lake Apopka. The boardwalk features interpretive signage along the way to identify plants and trees, and offers many opportunities to see alligators, wading birds and turtles.
Lake Apopka was once the 2nd largest lake in Florida in the late 1800s, and used to be known as the bass fishing capital of the southern US. Visit HISTORY page to learn more about the history of Lake Apopka.
Sections of the boardwalk were damaged by toppled trees that smashed railings and planks during Hurricane Irma in 2017. The nature preserve wants to replace the boardwalk’s wooden planks with a composite weather-resistant decking. Caretakers at the Oakland Nature Preserve enlisted the town’s help this week to petition for a federal grant program for $400,000 to defray the costs of improving the walkway. “The boardwalk is definitely important to the community….at just under a mile, this boardwalk attracts visitors both far and wide,” Oakland Town Manager Steve Koontz stated in a letter to the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of State Lands. The preserve needs to come up with $80,000 (a 20% match of the $400,000 grant) to be eligible for funds through the Florida Recreational Trails Program, which receives federal funds to finance trail projects. The preserve’s managing director, Jennifer Hunt, said the group has lined up the matching funds through donations of cash, labor, and materials. She estimated that approximately 30,000 visitors walked through the boardwalk in 2018, as well as the occasional bobcat captured by remote tree-mounted wildlife cams. These cameras, in place since 2016, documented coyotes, birds of prey, songbirds, otters, and reptiles roaming the grounds of Oakland Nature Preserve. The nature preserve recently launched a fundraising effort to replace four trail cameras that were stolen and add security measures to protect them.
Even though the Oakland Nature Preserve was created by the nonprofit Friends of Lake Apopka and is managed by nonprofit Oakland Nature Preserve Inc., the west Orange town’s endorsement was necessary to secure a grant because Oakland owns the property.
The deadline for submitting the grant proposal is Feb. 1, 2019. If you are interested in helping out with the boardwalk project or trail cameras, donations can be made through the preserve’s website or oaklandnaturepreserve.org .
Welcome to Oakland Nature Preserve! Built by volunteers and supported by donations. Come out today to see west Orlando’s “hidden gem”! We have 7 hiking trails, a boardwalk to Lake Apopka, and offer environmental summer camps, as well was all-ages programs on Saturdays, in the video “Oakland Nature Preserve“, below:
More about the community at www.WindermereSun.com
~Let’s Help One Another~
Please also get into the habit of checking at these sites below for more on solar energy topics: