Regional Exploration

Day Trips to Natural Areas

Introduction. Many visiting researchers and visiting classes use Archbold as a base for field trips to other ecosystems throughout south central Florida. The text Ecosystems of Florida edited by Myers and Ewel (1990) is an invaluable guide to Florida ecosystems. Another really useful book is the Florida Atlas Gazetteer by De Lorme, an excellent 1"=2.3 mile map book for planning field trips, which is for sale in the Main Office. Other references also for sale from the Main Office include Susan Cerulean and Ann Morrow's "Florida Wildlife Viewing Guide" (Falcon Press), Bill Pranty's "A Birder's Guide to Florida" (American Birding Association) and Tim Ohr's "Florida's Fabulous Natural Places" (World Publications).

Archbold is ideally situated for excursions, within easy driving distance of many publicly owned lands. Information can be found in a list of wildlife viewing sites (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Comm.) and for state parks (Dept. Environmental Protection). Also worth reviewing are the numerous birding sites on the Great Florida Birding Trail. The range and number of publicly owned lands in the region reflect Florida's highly successful land acquisition programs Preservation 2000 and Forever Florida as well as many federal programs.

Lake Wales Ridge. Other scrub sites along the Lake Wales Ridge provide a north-south continuum of scrubs for comparative studies, as well as distinctive hardwood hammocks and bay tree swamps. Many of these are still being acquired, (lot by lot) but some are complete and open. They include the Lake Placid Scrub (next to Archbold), Lake June Scrub, Catfish Creek, Jack Creek, Lake Wales Ridge State Forest, TNCs Tiger Creek and Saddleblanket Preserve, and the Avon Park Air Force Range, which is off the Lake Wales Ridge but includes a large expanse of scrub, flatwood and prairie ecosystems. Highlands Hammock State Park, only 1/2h drive away in Sebring, also lies along the Lake Wales Ridge and features a wonderful hydric hammock. Also on the Ridge in Lake Wales is Bok Towers Botanical Gardens, with whom we partner on several endangered plant projects.

Regional Forests and Wetlands. Off the Ridge, in south east, south west, and east-central directions, are numerous public and privately managed lands that are excellent examples of Florida's forested and wetland ecosystems. Sites in the southwest include Myakka River State Park, Corkscrew Swamp and the more distant Big Cypress and the Fakahatchee State Preserve. Half an hour's drive east from Archbold is the Riverwoods Field Laboratory of the Center for Environmental Studies at Florida Atlantic University which is the focal point for ecological research on the South Florida Water Management District's restoration of the Kissimmee River. Detailed information about access to the Kissimmee River Pool A, Pool C, Pool D, and Pool E can be found in the Kissimmee/Okeechobee management region of the "Guide to the Kissimmee Waterway" published by the South Florida Water Management District and available from Archbold's Main Office. The booklet also covers information about district lands in their East Coast management region, such as the Dupuis Management Area. Further to the south east there are the wetlands of the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and the scrub systems of Jonathan Dickinson State Park. The Everglades National Park is a longer drive (3 hours).

Coastal Marshes and Mangrove Swamps. Coastal ecosystems are abundant within 1.5 hour drive on both Gulf and Atlantic East coasts. Sites include Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Briggs Nature Center, and Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve on the Gulf coast, and, on the Atlantic coasts, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, Fort Pierce Inlet State Park, and Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge. Further afield (3 hours) are the excellent scrub and coastal systems of Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, a marine research lab on the Indian River Lagoon- east coast in Fort Pierce, and Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota on the Gulf coast have educational tours available. On the Gulf Coast in Sarasota, is the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, also open for public tours, with a focus on tropical plant research and conservation.

Regional Lakes and Rivers. There is public access for those with boats and canoes to numerous lakes and rivers regionally (public boat ramps are indicated on maps such as the De Lorme Atlas.