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Wekiva River Aquatic Preserve Segment - Transcript

We move back inland to the Wekiva River Aquatic Preserve. The Wekiva River, just north of Orlando, is one of the few near pristine riverine systems in central Florida and is a major tributary of the St. Johns River which flows north to Jacksonville. As urban growth began to impact the river basin, citizens became very concerned about the future and quality of the river. Pat Harden, who resides along the river and is an active member of the Friends of the Wekiva, and her teenage grandson, Aaron Colbert, explains.

Pat Harden: The Friends started as a group of friends in the late 70s. We were successful in getting the river designated an Outstanding Florida Water. It's a Florida State Canoe Trail. It's a Florida Scenic and Wild River. In the last couple of years, it was made a National Wild and Scenic River. Wekiva Springs is a state park. It has been our mission to protect the Wekiva and the things that make it the Wekiva as well as educate people to its value. People think only of it as environment maybe for snakes and critters to them, but it also has a great economic value to the area.

Wekiva River photo by Clyde Butcher

Wekiva River #4
Photo: Clyde Butcher

Aaron Colburn:
The river is one of the most beautiful places in Florida. There's no other place that I've been that's like this. In the morning, you look out through the trees which looks like a rainforest; you see the steam rising off the river and you can just go outside and you feel the humidity in the air which in the morning, usually isn't uncomfortable. During the day, it's just a fun place to go out and forget about everything and do nothing.

Narrator: An extensive floodplain of hardwood forest, approximately three miles wide in some areas provides natural habitat for a diverse array of wildlife including several designated as Endangered, Threatened or of Special Concern. The wood stork, an endangered species, nests in cypress trees within the aquatic preserve and is often observed feeding in certain shallow areas of the river. The little blue heron, tricolored heron and limpkin - Species of Special Concern - nest and forage along the Wekiva banks.

Pat Harden:
I'm a second generation Floridian. This part of Florida is a slice of what Florida used to be; has the wildlife and the birds and just the beauty that I remember in Florida as a child. If you know of places like this, whether it's a spring-fed river, a lake, a piece of woods, you really care for it, then get involved in protecting it because you wait until it's threatened, it may be too late. And only if we raise our voices, will we be heard.

The Wekiva River watershed, with its upland, wetland and riverine habitats, provide an important wildlife corridor, connecting thousands of acres of publicly owned conservation lands to the Ocala National Forest.

Aaron Colburn: This is my favorite place to be. We have to take care of what God's given us. Once it's gone, it's not coming back. If we don't take care of the environment around us, it'll be like the movies you see of the future. You see Minority Report. Everything was one city. You have to go way out into the middle of nowhere to get into a little country home. That wouldn't be too fun.

Pat Harden: It's a place to get away from the hurry of the world. It's a place to find quietness of soul, to calm your spirit. It's important for the wildlife - the animals and plants that I think the good Lord gave us and we should have good stewardship of. And without these kinds of places and without some of these places being connected, all these beautiful gifts will disappear.











Last updated: April 06, 2015

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