Florida:   Fauna & Flora




We live at Naples Bath and Tennis Club.  The main two mile circular access road is Bald Eagle Drive. 

Except for Clubhouse Drive, all the spur roads are named after birds:  Bobolink,  Goldfinch,  Hummingbird,   Jacana, Meadowlark,  Oriole,  Oyster Catcher,  Spoonbill,  Swallow, and  Widgeon. 

Our address is "Oyster Catcher" which is a gull that uses his red beak to pry open oysters.  They are extremely fast, having never been outrun by an oyster.

  Streets are Named after Birds 

                            Oyster Catcher

Mourning Doves  April 2006  We had three broods of  two babies each, in a hanging basket by our condo door.  We watched them all fledge.   Courtship begins with a noisy flight by the male, followed by a graceful, circular glide with outstretched wings and head down. After landing, the male will approach the female with a puffed-out breast, bobbing head, and loud calls.  The male then leads the female to potential nest sites, and the female will choose one. The female dove builds the nest. The male will fly about, gather material, and bring it to her. The Mourning Dove is the most widespread and abundant game bird in North America. Every year hunters harvest more than 20 million.                                                         

    White Ibis                                                    Immature White Ibis  

                           Roseate Spoonbill                                                   Sandhill Cranes

                              Anhinga                                       Cormorant                                 Red Shouldered Hawk

For hawk parasailing, see www.youtube.com/v/pd5BMP_41bI%26rel%3d0%26hl%3den_US%26feature%3dplayer_embedded%26version%3d3

Nicknames:  (Ibis   "Florida Chicken")   (Anhinga "Swamp Turkey" or "Snake Bird"))

:For excitement, see https://www.youtube.com/v/XBEyCr5AoIs

For great bird pictures, go to: http://floridabirdingtrail.com/bird-sort-page/

For terrific wildlife pictures in the Everglades go to Brian Hampton's website  www.brianhamptonphotography.com

                                          Black Vulture                                                               Turkey Vulture

                          Osprey on Airport Road                                                  Osprey on Gordon River

                                                                                       Bald Eagles

Read  about the Bald Eagles in Ft Myers. Also, go to http://www.ustream.tv/SouthwestFloridaEagleCam  for live video and  www.DickPritchettRealEstate.com for pictures.  And watch the super terrific film clip on the movie "the Eagle Huntress" at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qlqEo1mGns

                    Muscovy Duck at Oyster Catcher                                            Bald Eagle on Airport Road

Ozzie and Harriet are a mature and actively mating pair of Bald Eagles.  They have been coming to this nest since 2006.

Ozzie is a male Bald Eagle, identified by his smaller and less pronounced beak line and white spots on the back of his neck.

Harriet is a female Bald Eagle, who is larger than her male counterpart, has a more pronounced and larger beak, and does not have any white spots on her neck.  Harriet is also distinguished by her Inverted V in the front of her neck and dark circles around her eyes.

Visit http://dickpritchettrealestate.com/eagle-feed.html to see  the  Eagle's nest in Ft Myers live on camera Also  http://dickpritchettrealestate.com/blog.html  and http://southwestfloridaeaglecam.com/about.htm 

                    We saw Sand Hill Cranes in Bradenton                   The Peregrine Falcon lives in Florida.

We see many 
Wood Storks  in Florida, but not in Vermont. Although ugly on the ground, they are beautiful in flight, with a wing span up to six feet. We learned about "tactile feeding wading birds".  The Wood Stork is a tactile feeder, capturing food by feel.  Although this bird can feed visually, tactile feeding allows it to forage in wetlands with concentrated prey, as well as in murky waters, without depending on sight. If there is an increase in water depth, fish are dispersed over a larger area and the wood stork will not build a nest for two and breed.  This is apparently true of other tactile feeders such as the ibis and and spoonbill. Breeding efforts generally cease when the rainy season begins. At that time of year in the Everglades, aquatic prey become scattered and exposure to the elements is harder to endure.


Barred Owl                                                  Red Shouldered Hawk

American Swallow Tailed Kite                                     Pileated Woodpecker

                  Great White Heron is a Blue Heron Morph                                   Great Blue Heron

                               Little Blue Heron                                     Little Blue Heron (Is white the first year)

Great Egret Photo

Great Egret:  White. Bill is yellowish-orange, black legs, and black feet.

Little Egret: White, black bill, black legs, yellow feet and a slim black bill. Snowy Egret: White,  black bill, black legs, yellow feet.  and, a patch of yellow skin at the base of the bill.

Cattle Egret  

Green Heron   

Black Crowned

Image result for red headed vs red bellied woodpecker

        Yellow Crowned Night Heron               Swallowed Tailed Kite                  Red Headed & Red Bellied

                                       Hairy                                               Downy                                  Pilleated

                         Painted Bunting                                  Royal Tern                          Mockingbird (FL State Bird)

                     Moorhen (or Gallinule)                             Sanderling                                       Kingfisher

Limpkin RWD1.jpgAmerican Bittern Photo    Limpkin                                 Bittern                                            Dowitcher


Purple Gallinule


A wonderful bird is the pelican,

His bill will hold more than his belican.

He can take in his beak

Food enough for a week,

But I'm damned if I see how the helican.


Brown Pelican by Ogden Nash Brown Pelican With Breeding Plumage


pic of pink flamingos  - Two pink flamingos walking in the water with reflections - JPG
Pink Flamingos in the Wild Plastic Pink Flamingos

Pink Flamingo creator, Don Featherstone, died.  See http://www.ardastra.com/Nat%20Geo%20Article%201957.pdf and at  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/24/business/don-featherstone-inventor-of-the-pink-flamingo-in-plastic-dies-at-79.html?_r=0  and at www.uselessinformation.org/pink_flamingo/index.html and at  birding.about.com/od/Bird-Trivia/a/20-Fun-Facts-About-Flamingos.htm

These official flamingos were sold in pairs, with one standing upright and the other with its head low to the ground, "feeding".  There are more plastic ones than the real ones.

See Owl and Dog Friendship at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biXkJNJ52EU


Tursiops truncatus 01.jpg Florida Manatee - Animals Camp
Bottlenose Dolphin Manatee

We have both in SW Florida.  You can often see dolphins from the Naples Pier.  Drive to Manatee Park on the Orange River in Ft Myers and rent a canoe or a kayak to see manatees.  Read more here.


South Florida is the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles coexist in the wild.

Everglade Anhinga Trail  In February 2013 we went with Amy, Tom and Aleksey to snorkel in Key Largo.  We stopped in Everglades National Park near Flamingo and walked the Anhinga Trail and saw many birds and alligators.  See slide show.

                       Eastern Diamond Rattlesnake on Turner River Road

Compared to a Burmese python, like the one on the wrapped around Michael Cole’s arm below it,
the rattlesnake (and most other native snakes in Florida) has keeled scales (with ridges in the middle)
that give it a rough or matte-finish look,  compared to the smooth, shiny scales of a Burmese python.
Also, the rattlesnake has diamond-shaped markings compared to the python’s large giraffe-like spots.
The shape of the heads is also different but not so obvious in these photos, but the face markings are
visibly different with the rattlesnake having a large dark swoop mark from the eye and the python having
dark and light wedges behind the eye.
      Cheryl Millett Biologist

Article_Hunt                     Burmese Python

Florida is turning to cold hard cash to lure adventure seekers into the Everglades to bag a Burmese
, the state's slithering non-native enemy No. 1. Dubbed the Python Challenge, the month-long
contest will award $1,000 for the longest python and $1,500 for the most pythons caught between
January 12 and Feb.ruary 10, 2013 in any of four hunting areas north of Everglades National Park and
at the Big Cypress National Preserve.

Pythons have been spreading through the Everglades for years, posing a threat to the sensitive
ecosystem by preying on native species. Some estimates put their number in the tens of thousands.
Last year, 272 pythons were removed from the wild, state figures show.

The first python was discovered alive in 2007 when researchers checking on the status of a male Key
Largo woodrat wearing a radio transmitter noticed it strangely had moved more than a mile from its
original documented habitat. The signal led the two researchers — a University of St. Andrews graduate
student and a volunteer assistant studying federally endangered Key Largo woodrats — to a 7-1/2-foot
Burmese python sunning itself. The contents of the captured snake’s stomach included not only the
collared woodrat but another one as well.

Come to Florida and learn TREADMILLING Treadmilling is the technique used by a trained catcher:
Drag your hands, one after the other, along the underbelly of the snake to make it think it’s getting away.
When the snake is tired,  firmly grab the base of the head but avoid the writhing body getting wrapped
around your legs. Snakes captured in the wild are securely bagged, boxed, tagged and dropped off to
a designated recipient for research or training.

Read more about the Burmese Python.  Read March 18, 2016 Article.

In  April 21, 2018 we learn more:

We saw this cute Water Moccasin at the corner of Rt 41 and Turner River Road on February 28, 2016.

We have Florida SEA TURTLES in Naples. 

Image result for 5 species of sea turtles in fl


LOGGERHEAD (Caretta caretta)
The most common sea turtle in Florida, the loggerhead is named for its massive, block-like head. Loggerheads are among the larger sea turtles; adults weigh an average of 275 pounds and have a shell length of about 3 feet. Its carapace, which is a ruddy brown on top and creamy yellow underneath, is very broad near the front of the turtle and tapers toward the rear. Each of its flippers has two claws. As is true for all sea turtles, the adult male has a long tail, whereas the female's tail is short; however, a juvenile's cannot be determined externally.

The powerful jaws of the loggerhead allow it to easily crush the clams, crabs, and other armored animals it eats. A slow swimmer compared to other sea turtles, the loggerhead occasionally falls prey to sharks, and individuals missing flippers or chunks of their shell are not an uncommon sight. However, the loggerhead compensates for its lack of speed with stamina; for example, a loggerhead that had been tagged at Melbourne Beach was captured off the coast of Cuba 11 days later.

Green Turtle

GREEN TURTLE (Chelonia mydas)
Green turtles, named for their green body fat, were valued by European settlers in the New World for their meat, hide, eggs, and "calipee" (the fat attached to the lower shell that formed the basis of the popular green turtle soup). Merchants learned that the turtles could be kept alive by turning them on their backs in a shaded area. This discovery made it possible to ship fresh turtles to overseas markets. By 1878, 15,000 green turtles a year were shipped from Florida and the Caribbean to England. At one time, Key West was a major processing center for the trade. The turtles were kept in water-filled pens known as "kraals," or corrals. These corrals now serve a more benign role as a tourist attraction.

A more streamlined-looking turtle than the bulky loggerhead, the green turtle weighs an average of 350 pounds and has a small head for its body size. Its oval-shaped upper shell averages 3.3 feet in length and is olive-brown with darker streaks running through it; its lower shell, or plastron, is yellow.

Green turtles are found during the day in shallow flats and seagrass meadows and return every evening to their usual sleeping quarters-scattered rock ledges, oyster bars, and coral reefs. Adult green turtles are unique among sea turtles in that they are largely vegetarians, consuming primarily seagrasses and algae. Approximately 100 to 1,000 green turtles nest on Florida's beaches each year from June through late September.


LEATHERBACK (Dermochelys coriacea)
The leatherback is a fascinating and unique animal, even among sea turtles. It is larger, dives deeper, travels farther, and tolerates colder waters than any other sea turtle. Most leatherbacks average 6 feet in length and weigh from 500 to 1,500 pounds, but the largest leatherback on record was nearly 10 feet long and weighed more than 2,000 pounds.

Leatherbacks look distinctively different from other sea turtles. Instead of a shell covered with scales or shields, leatherbacks are covered with a firm, leathery skin and have seven ridges running lengthwise down their backs. They are usually black with white, pink, and blue splotches and have no claws on their flippers. Leatherbacks eat soft-bodied animals such as jellyfish, and their throat cavity and scissor-like jaws are lined with stiff spines that aid in swallowing this soft and slippery prey. Young leatherbacks in captivity can consume twice their weight in jellyfish daily.

True denizens of the deep, leatherbacks are capable of descending more than 3,000 feet and of traveling more than 3,000 miles from their nesting beach. They are found throughout the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans, as far north as Alaska and Labrador. Researchers have found that leatherbacks are able to regulate their body temperature so that they can survive in cold waters. The leatherback is found in Florida's coastal waters, and a small number (from 30 to 60 a year) nest in the state.

Kemp's Ridley

KEMP'S RIDLEY (Lepidochelys kempi)
The Kemp's ridley is the rarest sea turtle in the world and is the most endangered. It has only one major nesting beach, an area called Rancho Nuevo on the Gulf coast of Mexico. The location of this nesting beach was itself a mystery to scientists until the discovery of a film made in 1947 by a Mexican engineer showing 40,000 Kemp's ridleys crawling ashore in broad daylight to lay eggs. Sadly, an "arribada" (from the Spanish word for arrival) of such awe-inspiring splendor can now be seen only on film. Fewer than 1,000 nesting females remain in the world.

Kemp's ridleys are small, weighing only 85 to 100 pounds and measuring 2 to 2.5 feet in carapace length, but they are tough and tenacious. Their principal diet is crabs and other crustaceans.

During the 1980s, many eggs were removed from the beach at Rancho Nuevo and incubated in containers. The hatchlings that emerged from these eggs were then raised for almost a year in a National Marine Fisheries Service facility in Galveston, Texas. Upon release, it was hoped that these "headstarted" turtles had a better chance of survival than they would have had as hatchlings. Unfortunately, there were many problems with this program. When it was discovered that the sex of turtle hatchlings was influenced by temperature, project workers realized that the artificial egg incubators were producing only male turtles. They also discovered that many of the "headstarted" turtles did not behave like their wild counterparts after release. Many scientists worried that these "headstarted" turtles would never become reproducing adults. Although two "headstarted" turtles have finally been known to nest, headstarting is generally considered to be an inappropriate conservation technique for marine turtles.

HAWKSBILL (Eretmochelys imbricata)
The hawksbill is a small, agile turtle whose beautiful tortoise-colored shell is its greatest liability. The shell is still used in some European and Asian countries to make jewelry, hair decorations and other ornaments, even though international trade in hawksbill products has been banned in much of the world.

Hawksbills weigh from 100 to 200 pounds as adults and are approximately 30 inches in shell length. Its carapace is shaded with black and brown markings on a background of amber. The shields of this kaleidoscopic armor overlap, and the rear of the carapace is serrated. Its body is oval-shaped, its head is narrow, and its raptor-like jaws give the hawksbill its name. These jaws are perfectly adapted for collecting its preferred food, sponges. Although sponges are composed of tiny glasslike needles, this potentially dangerous diet apparently causes the turtle no harm.

Hawksbills are the most tropical of the sea turtles and are usually found in lagoons, reefs, bays, and estuaries of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. They are frequently spotted by divers off the Florida Keys, and a few nests are documented annually from the Keys to Canaveral National Seashore.

More on the five species.


Below is an Armadillo on Bald Eagle Drive near our condo in Naples in 1996.


Red Fox                                                        Deer

           Panther                                                                      Bobcat

otters at Corkscrew Swamp in S. Florida: Otters

Otters at Corkscrew Swamp

Other Birds and Animals of the World

Feral Pigs

Florida's population boom now includes some 500,000 wild hogs whose piggish habits are causing problems for farmers, residents and health officials as well as native flora and fauna.

“Nothing personal, but the only state with more wild hogs than Florida is Texas,” said Bill Giuliano, an assistant professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Wild or feral hogs can now be found in every Florida county and in at least 35 states — including 1 to 2 million hogs in the Southeast. Nationwide, their population totals about 3 million.

“Because they are prolific breeders, there is no way to completely eradicate them,” Giuliano said. “Even with intensive hunting pressure, you’re not going to get rid of them.”

He said the problem can be traced to 1539 when Hernando DeSoto brought hogs into southwest Florida, and some of them found freedom in the New World. Nearly 500 years later, there are some 3 million descendants of these “pioneer pigs” across the nation.

In Florida, some of the highest densities of feral hogs can be found north and west of Lake Okeechobee where large forested tracts, dense vegetation, abundant water and limited public access provide an ideal environment for the pigs. Hog numbers tend to be lower in areas with intensive agriculture or urban development.























RABBITS  See http://www.floridiannature.com/rabbitsinFlorida.htm

he Marsh Rabbit, Sylvilagus palustris, is found in freshwater and brackish marshes through out the state of FloridaInternational Rabbit Day is held on the fourth Saturday or Sunday of  September

Male rabbits are known as bucks, females are called does, and their babies, born furless and blind, are called kittens. They’re likely to have many siblings.      A rabbit’s pregnancy lasts only about one month, and it can become pregnant again—with up to 14 kittens—almost immediately after. And just a few months after that, the females among those offspring may get pregnant themselves     and have their own litter of kittens, and those female kits will soon get pregnant, and so on.



Read about Everglades City at www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everglades_City,_Florida

Read about Baron Collier at www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barron_Collier

 Read about Baron Collier's Rod and Gun Club in Everglades City.

Read about the Tamiami Trail.

Read about Copeland, a suburb of Everglades City.

Read about 10,000 Islands National Wildlife Refuge ... 35,000 acres.

Read about Fakahatchee Strand and go to www.floridastateparks.org/park/Fakahatchee-Strand and www.florida-everglades.com/mapfaka.htm  ...74,000 acres.   Plants found in the park include royal palm, bald cypress, bromeliads, ferns, and orchids.


Forty years ago, on October 11, 1974, President Gerald Ford signed the bill establishing the 729,000 acre area as the first national preserve in the National Park System east and south of Naples.  The Welcome Center is on Route 41, about 17 miles east of Route 29 that goes  to Everglades City.  We drive to Turner River Road in the Big Cypress, about 5 miles east of Route 29, at least once a month to view birds and alligators.  See a detailed map of the Big Cypress Preserve.


At one time, the sanctuary's bald cypress forest supported an estimated 100,000 Wood Storks.  Be sure to walk the 2.25 mile boardwalk loop. In flight ... Wood Storks are very beautiful.  Read about its History  and also about its Aquisition.


Read about the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island near Ft Myers at http://www.fws.gov/refuge/jn_ding_darling/ .  Also read about the Ding Darling Society at http://dingdarlingsociety.org/  additional information on wildlife in SW Florida is at XXXXX.

Bobbin Hollow Equestrian Center  3375 Vanderbilt Beach Road  239-592-1033

See https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152759186572658&set=vb.237443617657&type=2&theater   and  www.bobbinhollow.com/category/services/riding-lessons/

Coming Soon:  Horse Barn Off Goodlette-Frank Road in North Naples


Be sure to visit the Naples Botanical Gardenwww.naplesgarden.org

Invasive Plants:   Australian Melaleuca tree https://lflank.wordpress.com/2016/01/18/floridas-invaders-melaleuca/ and  South American Brazilian pepper tree https://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/plant-directory/schinus-terebinthifolia/ have spread into and on South Florida's conservation lands.  The Australian Pine is another not wanted exotic. http://fnpsblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/australian-pine-one-of-floridas-least.html

Melaleuca* Australian  Pine Brazilian Pepper


Read about the Myrtle Oak in Naples at Naples Preserve.  It is among "Big Trees" the biggest Myrtle Oak in Florida and in the 50 States. It apparently only grows in the five southeastern states,


Read about Ghost Orchids  http://corkscrew.audubon.org/visit/corkscrews-ghost-orchids

Swamp Lily (Crinum americanum)

The delicate and fragrant swamp lily is a Florida native. It grows in wetlands and along streams throughout the state. The swamp lily is a perennial herb, with an onion-like bulb. The leaves are erect to spreading. Leaves are strap-like, up to 3 feet long and 3 inches wide. Swamp lily flowers arise from the bulb on a long flower stalk that is separate from the leaves. Two to six flowers occur at the tip of the flower stalk. The long flower tubes are 4 to 6 inches long. Swamp lily flowers are white, or white and pink, and are fragrant. They have 6 petals. The fruit is a capsule, with large, fleshy seeds. Swamp lilies may be confused with spider lilies (of the genus Hymenocallis). Remember that swamp lily flowers have 6 separate petals. Spider lily flowers have petals that are connected by membranous tissue.
bulletThe swamp lily flower has long, wide, strap-like leaves.
bulletIts flowers are on long stalks.
bulletSwamp lily flowers are white and fragrant, with 6 separated petals

Rain Lily  (Zephyranthes & Habranthus spp)
The magical rain lily brings a sweet surprise after rainfall - beautiful flowers! Plus it's a super easy-care plant for South Florida gardens.The flowers don't last long - each one may live only a day or so - but if you've grouped these plants, more blooms will take the place of the ones that are spent

These sweet little plants will appear nondescript, with grassy evergreen foliage similar to liriope, when suddenly out of nowhere their enchanting flowers pop up above the leaves.

Flower colors are usually pink, yellow or white - but newer hybrids are now available in other shades and even patterns.

Pink rain lily flowers

Palm Trees 

The Sabal Palm (Sabal palmetto) was designated as the official state tree in 1953.  Also known as the  cabbage palm, palmetto, or cabbage palmetto is the most widely distributed palm tree in Florida. It grows in almost any soil and has many uses, including food, medicine, and landscaping. In 1970 the Florida legislature mandated that the sabal palm tree should replace the cocoa palm on the state seal.

The Cabbage Palm Tree is native to North America. The Cabbage Palm has a single, gray, unbranched trunk covered with old leaf bases, also known as boots. Leaf bases create a criss-cross pattern. It gets smoother as the palm matures. Trunk is about 10-15 inches in diameter.

Sabal palmetto grows up to 65 ft (20 m) in height (with exceptional individuals up to 92 ft (28 m) in height,
with a trunk up to 2 ft (60 cm) diameter. It is a distinct fan palm (Arecaceae tribe Corypheae), with a bare
petiole which extends as a center spine or midrib, (costa) 1/2 to 2/3 the length into a rounded, costapalmate
fan of numerous leaflets. A costapalmate leaf has a definite costa (midrib) unlike the typical palmate or fan
leaf, but the leaflets are arranged radially like in a palmate leaf. All costapalmate leaves are markedly
recurved or arched backwards. Each leaf is 5 to 6.5 ft (1.5–2 m) long, with 40-60 leaflets up to 2.6 ft (80 cm)

The flowers are yellowish-white, .20 in (5 mm) across, produced in large compound panicles up to 8.2 ft
(2.5 m) long, extending out beyond the leaves. The fruit is a black drupe about .5 in (1.3 cm) long containing
a single seed. It is extremely salt-tolerant and is often seen growing near the Atlantic Ocean coast.

For a palm tree, Sabal palmetto is very cold-hardy—it is commonly accepted that Sabal palmetto is able
to survive relatively short periods of temperatures as low as 7 °F (-13 °C). However, it has also been reported
to survive temperatures much lower. Maintenance of the Cabbage Palm tree is very easy and very adaptable.
The Cabbage Palm is known to tolerate drought, standing water and brackish water. Even though this palm
is drought-tolerant, it thrives on regular light watering and regular feeding. It is highly tolerant of salt winds, but
not saltwater flooding.  

Florida Native Palms (11 total)


01  Buccaneer Palm (Pseudophoenix sargentii)

02  Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)

03   Paurotis Palm (Acoelorrhaphe wrightii)

04  Royal Palm (Roystonea regia)

05  Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens)

       Sabal Palms:

06  Cabbage Palm (Sabal palmetto)

07  Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal minor)

08  Scrub Palmetto (Sabal etonia)

       Thrinax/Thatch Palms: 

09   Florida Thatch Palm (Thrinax radiata

10   Keys Thatch Palm (Leucothrinax morrisii

11   Silver Palm. (Coccothrinaxargentata)



Visit it in Sarasota  See https://selby.org/the-gardens/


Serenity Walk Park in East Naples reopens; wildfire, Hurricane Irma had damaged it

Serenity Walk Park in East Naples had some not so serene days in 2017.

It's open again, after being closed since last March when a wildfire and then Hurricane Irma in September ripped through the heavily wooded park and mile-long walking trail.

The one-two punch wreaked havoc at the park, the result of an environmental restoration project, and prompted another restoration all over again.

Serenity Walk Park is the last of 28 county parks and preserves to reopen after being closed because of Irma.

The 99-acre preserve along the western edge of Collier Boulevard north of Rattlesnake Hammock Road originally was built as a mitigation project to make up for destruction of 44 acres of wetlands for a huge county drainage project.

The county bought the land for the park in 2002 for $2.75 million and received a $1.1 million grant from the Florida Communities Trust through the Florida Forever land acquisition program. The park cost $150,000 to build.

Crews restored most of the site by removing nonnative trees and plants and regrading the land to restore wetland functions.

The county planted 2,800 pine and cypress trees and more than 64,000 ground cover plants as part of the restoration.

It opened in 2011 as the Lely Area Stormwater Improvement Project Mitigation Park. It was renamed the next year, sitting serenely until last March.

First, a wildfire that scorched thousands of acres on the edge of Golden Gate Estates jumped Collier Boulevard and torched the park.

Fire crews had to remove sections of fencing to get firefighting equipment into the park, which lost picnic tables, plastic matting, and signs and markers along the trail.

When rainy season arrived, the heavy equipment being used to clear the trail couldn't work in the wet soil.

Then, on the cusp of dry season, Hurricane Irma came through in September, felling more trees and requiring cleanup to start anew.

On a recent afternoon, walkers wended through a forest of scorched trunks and toppled trees, reminders of Serenity Walk Park's rough year.




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This site was last updated 04/22/18