Get Outside! Day at Deep Creek Preserve
The “Get Outside!” event at Deep Creek Preserve in DeSoto County gave nearby residents a chance to learn about the property and encouraged them to use it more often. Nearly 90 percent of the people who attended were first-time visitors.
The “Get Outside!” events are designed to highlight the unique characteristics of each property, and Deep Creek was no exception. Since the creek at the preserve’s eastern border is a branch of the Peace River, tours of the river made sense. Capt. Dennis Kirk, owner of the Nav-A-Gator restaurant and tourist attraction, agreed to give boat tours of the river, showing 80 passengers wildlife and native plants that can be found on the preserve.
Preserve visitors had an opportunity to participate in a variety of activities. The Lowry Park Zoo gave visitors a closer look at the types of animals that inhabit the preserve. The zoo’s Trinity Rodriguez showed visitors a pine snake, an opossum, a barn owl, a gopher tortoise and a marine toad. Kaylie Kushmer, a District youth education student intern, gave families time to rest between zoo presentations, boat rides and nature walks by reading watershed stories to the kids.
The Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center was one of the local organizations with an educational booth. Center volunteers gave visitors hands-on experience testing water quality. Around the Bend Nature Tours also set up a booth displaying tools fashioned from natural materials that can be found on District properties. Around the Bend guides gave tours through the hardwood hammock and pine flatwoods. The District’s Aquatic Plant Management, Land Management and Bartow Field Operations sections displayed some of their heavy equipment. Communications Department staff set up educational displays featuring a watershed model, Florida-friendly landscape plants and techniques, and more. Equestrian camping is popular at the Deep Creek property, so District staff brought their own horses for children to see.
Governing Board Chair Todd Pressman praised the event at the April Governing Board meeting.
“The ‘Get Outside!’ campaign has been an outstanding effort, and planning these events was a big job,” said Pressman. “The staff really organized some big events and made them very successful.”