Several hundred Pasco County residents joined the District at its first “Get Outside!” Day community event at Starkey Wilderness Preserve’s Serenova Tract.
The event was an opportunity for the District to introduce the property to the surrounding community and encourage more frequent use of the land. More than 400 people attended the event — 74 percent of whom were first-time visitors.
“It was a beautiful day and a great turnout by local residents to enjoy a wilderness experience right in their own backyards,” said Dave Moore, District executive director. “The District protects these natural lands for their water resource benefits and opens them to the public for many different kinds of recreational opportunities.”
Guided nature hikes, I Spy scavenger hunts and a pet-a-pony display were some of the many activities offered at the event. Among the favorites were the artifacts and fossils exhibit as well as the water quality and bugs display.
“The success of the event reinforces how communities and families value their public lands and the opportunity to discover and explore natural areas,” said Eric Sutton, land resources director.
This was the first of three community events planned as part of the “Get Outside!” campaign launched Sept. 26 to promote District lands to the public. Currently, there are more than 343,000 acres of conservation lands in the region open to the public for various recreational activities.
The 6,533-acre Serenova Tract, located within the 18,000-acre Starkey Wilderness Preserve, is managed by the District and offers a rustic outdoor experience. Recreational opportunities at this property include bicycling, hiking, equestrian, fishing, picnicking and camping.
To encourage people to come back to the Serenova Tract and use the property more often, the District created a pledge for event visitors. More than 200 people signed the pledge promising to come back with family and friends.
“This was a great event to get outside with my family,” said Ron Oakley, Governing Board vice chair. “My six-year-old loved it and we really enjoyed every minute. My family is ready for the next event,” said Oakley.
The next event will be at the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve’s Hampton Tract in Polk County on Feb. 27 from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visit WaterMatters.org/recreation or call 1-800-423-1476 (FL only), ext. 4776, for more information.