Saturday, September 15, 2012

Moccasin Lake Nature Park

 In the shadow of US 19 in Clearwater is a diamond that needs a little polish.....but it is still a diamond despite budget cut neglect.

Most of the blogs here have part of a song by John Denver, so I borrowed the facts about the Nature Center and Preserve from "Boardwalks and Long Walks" (with permission) and will add MY thoughts.

Photo- The solar display is 40 years out of date. Everything here is true, 
but not CURRENT. In 1979 the Live Oak tree probably did not block 
the stationary array, and the solar tracker probably tracked the sun. 
Shouldn't an alternative energy teaching display have working 
technology that is up to the minute, not middle of last century?

Photo- The mural shows heart, sombody(s) love this place, 
but it needs funding (first) and then promotion.

Listing used by permission, (c) 2012 "Boardwalks and Long Walks"

Moccasin Lake Nature Park                                                                                     Site #
2750 Park Trail Lane  Clearwater, FL 33759-2602                                                  Pinellas County
Opened in 1982, Moccasin Lake Nature Park is dedicated to providing guests with a unique environmental experience. The Nature interpretive center also includes Photo voltaic and alternative energy displays and exhibits.  This ADA-accessible facility features: 1 1/4 mile of natural and board walked trails, 3-acre watershed restoration area , 5-acre lake, all located on a 51-acre nature preserve. Environmental programs and classes include : Fabrication workshop, Guided tours and group hikes , Interactive educational displays Bird walks, bird-watching tours and workshops, Captive, permanently injured, non-releasable wildlife, and Children's nature camps. Live wildlife exhibits including: Aquatic wildlife, Birds of prey, Butterfly garden, Plants, native plants, and poisonous plants displays, Reptiles & amphibians, Song bird aviary. Native wildlife in the preserve include: fauna, and flora along the trails, including American Alligators, Great Egrets, turtles, Green Anoles, Ospreys and butterflies 

Photo- A 1970's Solar Still that no longer functions. The Center 
would like to turn it into a hydroponic display if they get the proper sponsor
 and technical guidance. What a great opportunity for the right sponsor!

Photo- They have over a mile of trail/ boardwalk through a nice hammock 
and an artificial lake with a dozen small streams flowing through the 
preserve. Gorgeous, new wood, fresh shell path that is wide and 
clear- this they did right!

Photo- Each post has a cap on top made from recycled plastic bottles. 
This means the post will last a long time because precipitation will not
 get into the wood from the top.

Photo- The water looks darker than it is. No swamp stink here!

Photo- This is not the lake, but a stormwater pre-treatment pond 
that settles the water and allows sunlight to kill off parasites, bugs, 
and viruses from the houses upstream. Then the water is aerated
over a falls and allowed to course thru the preserve.

Photo- Bat house on the far side of the man-made waterfall that aerates the 
treated stormwater and helps to maintain a steady stream 
water temperature.

Photo- A wounded, rescued, red shouldered hawk. Inside the "Nature Center" 
there are a coyote, opossum, and a raccoon that have/are loosing fur since 
they were mounted. The coyote looks like a dog mannequin with a shaved beard 
laying on the ground under it.  Anyone know a 
taxidermist that might donate a new coyote or 'coon? 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The legend of the Monster of the Lake- Lake Jackson


Fact- More than eight centuries ago, Native Americans inhabited the area around Lake Jackson, just north of Tallahassee. Lake Jackson is intermittently drained by sink holes  into the porous limestone that underlays the lake.

 This is similar to Payne’s Prairie/ Alachua Lake- also a site with Native American history.  As these sinkholes collapse or fill with debris, the lake level rises or falls over time. 

The remains of important tribal members have been found at the site, with a rich array of burial objects including elaborate items such as copper breast plates, shell beaded necklaces, bracelets, anklets and cloaks still in place. These exotic artifacts indicate religious and trading ties with other large, pre-historic Indian ceremonial centers in the southeastern United States. There is evidence that the Lake Jackson Indians participated in a southeastern socio-religious complex known to archaeologists as the 'Southern Cult”.

Lore- The Indians believed that a great serpent lived in the lake, and when it yawned, it swallowed the waters, draining the lake. They were so afraid of the monster that they built a temple to it on a great mound near its shore. They sang and danced to keep the monster at rest. When the lake drained, they would sacrifice an Indian Maiden, and the Lake would slowly come back.

Today the park encompasses four earthen temple mounds, with two available for viewing by the public. The largest mound is 278 feet by 312 feet at the base and approximately 36 feet in height. Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park 3600 Indian Mounds Road Tallahassee, Florida 32303.

Also drained by a sink, Payne’s Prairie has flooded to become a lake at least once in recorded history.  

 Waves of diverse people settled the area for over 12,000 years, each wave eager to utilize the lush land to fill their needs. A rich prehistory of Paleo, Cades Pond and Alachua people were followed by the historic Potano Indians, Spanish adventurers, Seminole Indians and finally Americans pushing down from the north. 

The wilderness, now called Payne’s Prairie, has always proved an irresistible lure to the explorer and the adventurer. Hunter/gatherers were followed by hunter/farmers both Native American and European. They were followed by cotton farmers, citrus farmers and then cattlemen.   

When the sink became plugged, Heavy rains began to flood the prairie basin in 1871 and by 1873 the marsh was referred to as Alachua Lake. Steam-powered boats transported cotton, oranges, produce, lumber and passengers across the lake. A propeller from one of these boats is on display in the visitor center, next to a death mask of the Seminole  Chief Osceola.

  Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park is located 10 miles south of Gainesville, in Micanopy, on the east side of US 441.  Take exit 374, the Micanopy exit, and turn east at the end of the exit ramp. You will then be traveling east on CR 234. Stay on this road 1.4 miles until it intersects with US 441. Turn left onto 441 and go about 0.6 miles to Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park (on the right).