A recent reviewer of a newly opened golf course in central Florida gushed about the wonderful rolling landscape and said it was something you wouldn’t expect to see in “featureless, flat Florida”. The reviewer might need to expand his horizons a bit. In fairness, I suppose it depends upon one’s definition of “featureless”. As to “flat”, many areas of the state do appear to be flat, especially to a visitor from hilly or mountainous landscapes. The center of the state has a nice ridge running north-south which is likely the ancient beginnings of the Appalachian mountains. North-central Florida has some quite hilly countryside. The bottom line is that beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder. The golf course reviewer obviously has a job to describe the beauty of a golf course. For me, no golf course could ever compare to a vista of a cypress dome in the center of a sea of scrub palmetto at dawn.
Last week, I had an opportunity to explore an area that was originally scheduled to become a golf course residential development. Fortunately, research proved that the area could be turned into a wetlands which would significantly filter water flowing into a nearby river which eventually feeds into the Gulf of Mexico. Instead of fertilizer being dumped into the ground and already scarce water resources being used to produce bright putting greens and lawns, the “new” wetlands is performing as advertised. Water is held in “cells”, dug out areas about 1.5 miles square, which were planted with vegetation known to have positive filtering properties as well as trees which will grow to provide shelter for all manner of wildlife.
The bird species count for the morning was almost 70 and there were some impressive numbers of individuals, such as: 100+ Snowy Egret, 125+ Glossy Ibis, 100+ Black-necked Stilt, 350+ Blue-winged Teal, 40 American White Pelican, 50+ Great Egret. Some surprising birds for the area made an appearance: 15 Black Tern, 25+ Caspian Tern, 20+ Sandwich Tern, 25 Pectoral Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Wilson’s Snipe and a Willet.
I’m sure a golf course reviewer would not be impressed but I was.
There are no photographs of fairways, greens, bunkers or clubhouses below. You have been warned.
It was a wonderful day of exploring and incredibly satisfying to know all the water moving through this area for the future will be cleaned and purified naturally as it makes its way to the coast. I can even relate to our golfing friends: got two Eagles and a whole lotta birdies!
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit.