St. Johns River Water Management District News Release
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CONTACT:
Danielle Spears:(407) 659-4836 (Office) or (407) 961-3838 (Cell)
 dspears@sjrwmd.com

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive celebrates second year

MAITLAND, Fla., April 25, 2017 -- Just two years after the St. Johns River Water Management District opened the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, more than 130,000 visitors have experienced the one-way, 11-mile drive that traverses a network of wetlands, levees and canals, providing a variety of wildlife viewing opportunities.

"We are committed to balancing the ecosystem's viability with the public's desire for recreational opportunities," said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. "We're proud of the drive's success and know it will continue to be an incredible educational opportunity for residents and visitors alike."

To commemorate the anniversary, volunteers with the Orange Audubon Society will be stationed along the drive on April 30 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with scopes, bird books and loaner binoculars to assist visitors with identifying wildlife.

A free self-guided audio tour, which can be streamed through mobile devices and online, is also available along the wildlife drive and provides visitors with a narrative on the area's history, wildlife and district-led restoration efforts. Several vehicle pullovers on the drive provide opportunities for stopping at preferred sites.

Visitors to the area can also hike or bicycle the 18-mile Lake Apopka Loop Trail, further exploring the area's natural systems and learning about water resource protection and conservation.

Once farmed land, the area was acquired by the district between 1988 and 2001 with the goal of reducing discharges of excessive nutrients to the lake to protect water quality, promote water storage and provide critical wetland functions. This multi-benefit restoration approach on the North Shore relies upon the district's expertise in science, engineering, construction and wildlife management.

Housed within the district's 20,000-acre Lake Apopka North Shore restoration area, the wildlife drive opened in May 2015. Its success is attributed to not only housing a diverse bird population but also providing unprecedented access to the unique area. Home to 367 species of birds, including bald eagle, great blue heron and swallow-tailed kite, visitors to the wildlife drive should also watch for alligators, turtles, otters, raccoon, snakes, coyotes and bobcats.

The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is open year-round between sunrise and sunset on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and federal holidays. There is no cost to visit the wildlife drive.

Trail guides, photos and videos and more information about recreational opportunities on lands owned and managed by the district are available at www.sjrwmd.com/recreation.