Local 6 Theme World: A Hidden Florida Gem

By Ken Pilcher, Producer, kpilcher@wkmg.com
Published On: Apr 18 2013 04:06:26 PM EDT
Updated On: Apr 18 2013 04:29:19 PM EDT

Welcome to Local 6 Theme World

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April 18, 2013

A Hidden Florida Gem Marks 20 Years

One of the hidden gems in Theme World is about to mark a milestone: 20 Years for The Disney Wilderness Preserve.
To celebrate, the Nature Conservancy is planning an open house on April 27. While the preserve is usually open to the public, it is rarely open on weekends. So this is a chance for families to explore one of the most successful examples of wetlands restoration on earth.




Just south of the Walt Disney World resort,  Disney purchased the 8,500 acres at the heart of the preserve in the early 1990s for conservation -- and for permission to destroy some wetlands on its own 28,000 acres. As Disney added time shares, spas, shopping, restaurants, hotels -- and sometimes even new theme park attractions -- the Nature Conservancy carefully developed groundbreaking ways to restore important wetlands at the headwaters of the Everglades and expanded the preserve to 12,000 acres.

 Now it is home to amazing wildlife -- including the endangered Florida Scrub Jay



As well as an array of other birds -- including Bald Eagles, Sandhill Cranes, wild turkeys -- Red-shouldered hawks and a large rookery for wood storks.


It also houses an amazing amount of native Florida animals -- including  the Southeastern big-eared bat and the threatened gopher tortoise.



The preserve is also a delightful place for hikers - -featuring rare plants and flowers including the Catesby's (or pine)  lily which requires regular fires to thrive.


Here's more about the Disney Wilderness Preserve

The Nature Conservancy's open house  is set for April 27th from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

And organizers promise: "Join scientists, Florida cowboys, wildlife biologists and environmental educators to learn how nature is working for you with lots of fun outdoor activities!"

See birds of prey up close, take a swamp buggy tour, learn about how to identify animal tracks and watch for animals in your own back yard. Celebrate Central Florida's ranching heritage."

Sadly I won't be able to go to the open house -- I have a station commitment. But  I hope to get out there in person soon. It's a stop I've always wanted to make.

Feel free to keep emailing me your questions, tips and feedback! I always appreciate hearing from you.

Here's my last Theme World entry on upcoming attraction openings and celebrations coming soon.


And here's a link to other recent Theme World blog entries.
 

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