Friday, March 26, 2010

Big Cypress Swamp Visitor Center Ribbon Cutting

The new welcome center - the pride
and joy of the Big Cypress Swamp

Big Cypress National Preserve, Fakahatchee
Strand Preserve State Park Florida Panther
National Wildlife Refuge, Picayune Strand State
Forest, Friends of Big Cypress and Friends of
Fakahatchee, as well as others in the Big Cypress
community joined forces with the South Florida
National Park Trust to build a welcome center
that explains the entire Southwest Florida
Western Everglades.

They have worked on this project for years, and
very, very hard for the last two years. All of the hard
work finally met with success at the ribbon cutting
for the Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center

Getting ready to cut the ribbon

The ribbon is cut and a new
chapter in the future of Big
Cypress Swamp begins...

...and all of this is being done so that
the future will have a planet that is
environmentally strong...

Solar Panels

Craig Mitchell talking to Clyde
and Fred Thomas about the
solar panels

Clyde & Niki, Celinda Pena
and Fred Thomas

Bob DeGross, Clyde & Niki
with Alyn Golub

The new boardwalk

From the boardwalk you can see
manatees, gators, birds and the
occasional turtle.

Clyde with Big Cypress National
Preserve Superintendent, Pedro
Ramos...a wonderful person who
inspires the best in others

Clyde received an honor from the
Big Cypress Swamp community for helping
with the Big Cypress Swamp
Welcome Center

Clyde, Pedro Ramos - Superintendent
of Big Cypress National Preserve, Elam
Stoltzfus producer of the film on Big
Cypress and Charlie Arazoza - South
Florida National Park Trust

Main tent

A great crowd came to honor the
opening of the Welcome Center

Clyde was very proud to be standing next
to the icons of the Big Cypress Swamp:
Nathaniel Reed, Joe Browder and
Franklin Adams
Without these men, Big Cypress Swamp
would not exists...BLESS THEM!

...and food for ALL....

Getting drinks out of the canoe

Eating with friends

The kids were thrilled to be able
to have the photo taken on an airboat!

Behind the Welcome Center the
Big Cypress Swamp community
had set up a series of educational
tents filled with all kinds of
fascinating things...

Lisa Andrews talking to a young man about
the bears in the Preserve

Explaining the workings of a python

The day was a wonderful day filled with an abundance
of positive energy. Folks came from all over the state
and the country to the opening. It was a great event!
I wish they'd do something like this every year! It was
so much fun visiting with everyone and learning new
things about the environment in which we live!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kirby Storter - the removal of Water Hyacinth

Pulling the Water Hyacinth out
of the pond and putting it into
plastic bags.

Lifting the bag out of the kayak
and onto the boardwalk

Dumping the Water Hyacinth out of
the plastic bags so the bags can be
used again. It also allows the water
in the Water Hyacinth to drain through
the board walk before the next step.

The Water Hyacinth is put into large
paper bags donated by ACE hardware
then set aside to dry out
and then burned.

Water Hyacinth and root system

The beauty of small things in nature...
the root delicate.

Even though this is an aggressive non-native
species, it's beauty is still wonderful! If only
it could control itself...mmm...perhaps it
is a lot like us humans. We're beautiful, but
we have a tendency to be aggressively
invasive to nature....

Fakahatchee Party in the swamp!

Friends of Fakahatchee have decided to have an
event in Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park
every year to help folks to understand the
environment in this beautiful place.
This year was the first year.

Unfortunately, the weather was very
cool, with occasional rain. However,
the turn-out was wonderful! Just goes
to show how many folks love Fakahatchee
and want to know more about it!

There were canoes, swamp walks,
swamp buggy rides, tram tours followed
by a dinner. It was a cool day with warm
hospitality. Lots of fun...can't wait until
next years event!

Friends of Fakahatchee booth

The tram ride into Fakahatchee
began as a pleasant trip...then it
began to rain, rain and rain. We
all covered up as best we could
and huddled together until it stopped.

As the rain came down we were
passed by the swamp buggy filled
with brave folks wanting to see the
wild country of Fakahatchee


The fog started to roll in. Before
I could get a good set of photos
this lake was gone in the mist
of fog...

Cindy Hackney carries her guitar wherever
she goes. As we all sat around the fire
enjoying each others company, she gave
us a spontaneous concert of some of her
favorite was great!

As we left Fakahatchee the sun was setting
as the fog began to lift. A beautiful end to
a day filled with great folks enjoying the
outdoors. I can't wait until next years event!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Winter Swamp Walk 2010

This year our Winter Swamp Walk rolled
around on one of the coldest days of the
year in Florida. We honestly didn't think
we'd get many folks out into the swamp
when the weather was so cold, but they came
anyway! Hardy folks is what they are!

Bob Nesmith, one of our guides, discusses
the basics of the environment before everyone
jumps into the swamp

Walking through a winter forest

Rick Cruz explaining the environment

As you can tell from the clothes
everyone is wearing, it looks more
like they are headed out into the
snow than into a sub-tropical

The campfire came in really handy after each
swamp walk. Everyone was able to get their
feet warm again...

Add Image
On one of Donna's swamp walks that she led,
she came across an injured Sphinx Moth struggling
in the water. She scooped him up, hoping she
might be able to save him.

The Sphinx Moth is responsible
for pollinating the Ghost Orchid. Rarely do folks
get to see the real thing, so not only was this an
exceptional experience, but the images here
give you an idea of the size of this species.

Donna placed the Sphinx Moth in a safe
place, but it felt insecure, crawled
somewhere and probably died. The body
was badly injured...the lower half was
broken. It was sad to see it struggle, but
I'm thankful we finally have a photo of
this wonderful creature.

Clyde with Richard Weisskoff, PhD of
the Department of International and
Comparative Studies at the
University of Miami

Richard has been bringing his students
out to experience the Everglades
ecosystem for almost as long as we have
had our gallery. It is always good to see
him and each new group of students.

University of Miami group around campfire

University of Miami group defrosting their toes

University of Miami group warming
up around the campfire

The University of Miami group with Clyde
and Mike Owen, who was their guide

Clyde signing books and enjoying the
conversations from the great folks
who came to the walk

Niki talking with visitors
(photo by Robby)

Niki working on painting an image
(photo by Robby)

All of our employees and volunteers joined us
at the end of each day for dinner. We also
celebrated the birthdays of both Robby & Lu


Robby & Lu

Relaxing at the end of the day

We all sat around the campfire and talked as the
sun went down on the last day of the swamp walk

...and the day ended with the warmth of friends around the campfire....