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News Story
Updated: 06/18/2014 12:22:02AM

Talk and walk with Florida Master Naturalists

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ARCADIAN PHOTO BY AL SMOKE

Morgan Park will be the site of the first Nature Walk. The main trail is paved and fully handicap accessible. Several interpretive signs along the trail provide information on native plants and animals.

ARCADIAN PHOTO BY AL SMOKE

The ecosystem of the park is hydric hammock — cabbage palms, oak and water hickory dominate this riparian zone that is at times seasonally wet.

ARCADIAN PHOTO BY AL SMOKE

Recent rains have left areas along the trail wet, and evidence of wild hog damage is found throughout the park. Though the paved trail was covered in water in some areas, we were able to walk in sneakers without getting our feet wet. Some of the non-paved areas may be impassable.

ARCADIAN PHOTO BY AL SMOKE

A sturdy bridge crosses a seasonal stream. Park trails are closed to motorized vehicles, except approved handicap carts.

ARCADIAN PHOTO BY AL SMOKE

A seasonal stream flows with tannin rich water. The park closes at sundown, but we are sure it comes alive with night sounds.

ARCADIAN PHOTO BY AL SMOKE

View of the Peace River looking upstream from Morgan Park. The river is running at its seasonal high level.

ARCADIAN PHOTO BY AL SMOKE

An asssortment of lichens and air plants garnish a twig found on one of the park benches. These plants look totally different when not engorged with water, and are designed to survive drought.

ARCADIAN PHOTO BY AL SMOKE

American beautyberry is just coming into its fall splendor. The purple berries are relished by wildlife.

ARCADIAN PHOTO BY AL SMOKE

A large chicken mushroom, Polyporus sulfurous, on an old oak near the parking lot. This mushroom is edible and is considered choice.

ARCADIAN PHOTO BY AL SMOKE

A large chicken mushroom, Polyporus sulfurous, on an old oak near the parking lot. This mushroom is edible and is considered choice.

ARCADIAN PHOTO BY AL SMOKE

Red lichen on an oak tree trunk is surrounded by the heart-shaped leaves of air potato, an invasive plant. The park could benefit from some citizen TLC in removal of exotic species.

ARCADIAN PHOTO BY SUSAN E. HOFFMAN

Gil MacAdam points out shoestring fern growing on a sabal palm at the Environmental Learning Lab.

By Karen Smoke

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Beginning Sept. 11, the Florida Master Naturalist program will begin offering a series of talks and walks on the nature and ecology of DeSoto County. The program is offered under the aegis of the University of Florida IFAS (Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences) Extension Service. All of the talks and walks are free and open to the public. Monthly talks are scheduled for Wednesday mornings at 10 a.m. at DeSoto County Library. The walks will take place on various days after each program. Jerry and Linda Waters are organizing the program. You can pick up a schedule at the library, or email Lndwtrs@gmail.com for the e-flyer, or call 941-350-1337. Or contact DeSoto County Extension at 863-494-4846.

The programs will appeal to anyone with a curiosity about nature and interest in learning more about our Florida environment. Whether you are a Florida native or a newcomer, there is always something new to learn about our natural world. Enjoy the talks and slide shows at the library, then put on your hiking shoes and take a walk with these folks. You will see much more than you would by going out alone. The events would also be great for home-schooled youth interested in learning about the Florida environment.

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