Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Photography In The Sunshine State
Florida offers the nature photographer incredible variety in landscapes and wildlife. Renowned professional John Moran takes us on a tour of some of the hot spots.
Florida was recently awarded the Best Trails State Award by American Trails. Excellent online trail directories are found at www.americantrails.org and at the website for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Greenways and Trails, www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/guide/index.htm. Both sites feature extensive listings of paved trails, many on converted railbeds through rural and scenic areas, and mountain bike trails, many in state parks. Also check out the Florida Trail Association website, www.floridatrail.org, which builds, maintains, protects and promotes the 1,400-mile Florida Trail, one of only eight National Scenic Trails in America.
Facing intense development pressure, Florida has long been a national leader in environmental land acquisition. Many people visit and enjoy our state parks, but there are plenty of other properties of note should you be seeking solitude.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) manages the largest wildlife management area system in the country, with more than five million acres of mostly undeveloped land. FWC also has created the Great Florida Birding Trail program, with recognizable signage to promote birding as a destination activity. Go to http://myfwc.com.
Some of my favorite places in Florida are managed by the five regional Water Management Districts, www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/watman, which each publish (print and online) detailed recreational guides to district lands. Florida is home to the finest array of freshwater springs on the planet, with most of the big ones in public ownership as state parks or water management district lands in north and central Florida.
The National Park Service manages a dozen Florida properties, including two National Seashores—Canaveral and Gulf Islands. Dade County is the only county in America to host two national parks—Everglades and Biscayne. Florida trails only California in the number of national wildlife refuges. We have 28, but became the first when Theodore Roosevelt established Pelican Island NWR with a stroke of his presidential pen in 1903. Additionally, Florida has three national forests—the Ocala, Osceola and Apalachicola.
Okay, I’m running out of space here, and there’s so much more I have to share. I feel like the character Elliott in the movie E.T., rushing around his bedroom to show his new extraterrestrial friend all the cool stuff in his world. And I haven’t even had time to mention The Nature Conservancy properties, or Audubon lands, or the clearwater streams of Eglin Air Force Base, or our zoos and aquariums, or all the great county and city parks and nature centers....
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