Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge

Stand at the observation tower and see if you can identify any of the 215 species of migratory birds in the Lake Woodruff Wildlife Refuge at 2045 Mud Lake Road in DeLeon Springs. Walk on the stepping-stones that lead to the Butterfly Garden that includes a variety of host plants.

Storyboards throughout the visitor center chronicle the early life in Volusia County. Over 8,000 years ago, the Timucua a Native American Tribe settled the land. Artifacts displayed used for hunting and warfare, sharpening tools, fishing, jewelry, utensils and numerous other uses. In the early part of the nineteenth century, William Williams bought the property and built Spring Garden Plantation. In the early 1820s, Major Joseph Woodruff bought the property and named it Lake Woodruff after a nearby lake.

Bears, Coyotes, and Deer some of the animals that you might encounter while hiking the many trails. Take a canoe or boat ride and see some of the magnificent wildlife.

In the mid-1960s, the alligator on the brink of extinction listed as an endangered species eventually made a full recovery. A diorama of the alligator and plaques that surrounds the diorama describes the recovery process. Free admission to the refuge, hours of operation on the website.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

 

 

 

 

A winding road leads you to the Visitor Center at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Titusville. Stand inside a replica of a Bald Eagle Nest that is 2 feet deep and 5 feet across made of interwoven sticks, grasses, and moss. Bald Eagles mate for life and lay 2 eggs a year.The Bobcat remains elusive and the Gopher Tortoise creates a borrow that provides shelter for a large number of animals. Storyboards throughout the center describe the different species of animals in the refuge and the varied habitats allow different species to survive.

 

 

 

 

Look outward to the freshwater pond while standing under a gazebo, and view the turtle on a ramp basking in the sun. Walk along the quarter mile boardwalk and read the many plaques that describe the different trees, plants, berries, and vines. The Timucuans and the Ais early Native American tribes used the bark of the trees for medicinal purposes. Native Americans crushed the leaves of the American Beautyberry to repel insects. The Timucuans smashed the acorns of the Live Oak Trees to make bread. The fruits of the trees provide food for the many animals in the refuge. The Virginia Creeper a climbing vine that provides food and shelter for the songbirds.Walk underneath the trestle to the Butterfly Garden. Different varieties of butterflies surround the garden. Host and Nectar plants in abundance. Six trails that offer opportunities to explore many habitats and the different species of wildlife.Browse the gift shop for books on birds, butterflies, Manatees and watercolor prints as well as the usual items found in gift shops. Fees and hours of operation on the website.

Enchanted Forest Sanctuary

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Enchanted Forest Sanctuary a wildlife sanctuary located at 444 Columbia Boulevard in Titusville. We walked the trail leading up to the open-air amphitheater that holds weddings and other events that people can rent. A wedding performed the day we visited the sanctuary.

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A trail map located at the entrance to the sanctuary. Walk a 5K trail or the Enchanted Crossing that is a tenth of a mile. Sit on a bench under a trestle, relax and enjoy the view by the Serenity Pond. Walk along the boardwalk and admire the different shapes of coquina rocks. I hope that you can spot a butterfly in the butterfly garden.

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Sit at a table in the library inside the educational center and read about Florida’s past, big cats, insects and swamps. Enter the Discovery Center, Touch a Tree and observe the Red Rat Snake inside the aquarium found mostly in the eastern part of the United States and parts of Utah and Colorado.

enchanted forest 023The Web of Life Habitats, Animal Diversity, Biodiversity and the Human Impact all exhibits found inside the educational center. Free entrance to the Enchanted Forest Sanctuary; hours of operation on the website.

Oakland Nature Preserve

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Oakland Nature Preserve located at 747 Machete Trail in Oakland. Walk on a boardwalk to Lake Apopka or hike the green, blue or red trail in the preserve where native plants flourish and over 180 butterflies thrive.

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The gray snake and softshell turtles that live in aquariums both found in the southernmost part of the United States. Many different exhibits shown inside the Education Center. Fossils on display of the many tribes that vanished. Oakland’s historic past includes photographs of J.O. Brock’s grocery store, businesses in the town square and artifacts found during an archeological dig. Tools that the early settlers used displayed.

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The Florida Black Bear standing tall encased in glass. Different species of animals mounted on the wall. The remains of animals on a touch table help children identify them.

PICT1668Sit in one of the rocking chairs donated by organizations or individuals. Read one of the wildlife books. Take a book but leave a donation.

Check out the many programs offered at the preserve. Entrance to the preserve is free but donations are accepted. Hours of operation on the website.

 

Turkey Creek Sanctuary and the Margaret Hames Nature Center

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PICT0912Turkey Creek Sanctuary located at 1518 Port Malabar Boulevard in Palm Bay. Butterfly Cassia, Cork Stem Passion Flower and Sand Pine a number of native plants in the Butterfly Garden. Bird Watchers can enjoy the Great Florida Birding Trail. Walk or jog on the 1.5-mile jogging trail.

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The nature center named after Margaret Hames an environmentalist who was instrumental in saving several exceptional areas that became parks. Marine shells, Fiber Tempered Pottery Shards, Native American Pottery and Artifacts exhibited. The first examples of pottery was over four thousand years ago. Crystals from Florida, coquina, clams and fossils displayed. Pen and ink drawings of reptiles including a Gila monster and a six-lined racerunner.

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Individuals donated the animals mounted in the Nature Center. Books on the table illustrate the many birds, butterflies and reptiles. More than 180 species of butterflies exist in Florida. Zebra Longwing is Florida’s state butterfly.

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PICT0937Take a brochure as you walk on the boardwalk a 1.8-mile self-guided tour. People’s names carved on the wooden planks. Relax in the gazebo or have a picnic. Free entrance to the sanctuary and nature center; hours of operation on the website.

Sams House at Pine Island Conservation Area

PICT0568John H. Sams House at Pine Island Conservation Area located at 6195 North Tropical Trail in Merritt Island. Designated a Florida Heritage Site in 2006 a Historical Marker was constructed that details the history of the house and its inhabitants. The Sams family moved to Brevard County from South Carolina in the mid-19th century to take advantage of the 1860 Homestead Act. Built in 1875 using hand tools the log home is the oldest standing structure in Brevard County. Originally constructed in Eau Galle and reassembled at its present site the home is now a museum. Interpretive exhibits describe how the Native Americans and early settlers lived in Merritt Island.

Sams houseIn the late 19th century, he built a white two-story vernacular house for his family. A plaque on the house chronicles their life. For twenty years, he served as the first superintendent of schools for Brevard County.

The Conservation Area encompasses 900 acres and interactive exhibits along the paved trail. There is hiking, biking and horseback riding. Wildlife in the conservation area include manatees, bobcats, alligators and wading birds. Have a picnic on one of the many picnic tables.