Welcome to Wekiva Wilderness Trust

Welcome to the Wekiva Wilderness Trust, the  volunteer organisation that supports Wekiwa Springs State Park. There are many volunteer opportunities from helping to run the nature center and conducting guided walks to river patrol and assisting rangers in the park. Our Board meets in the park at 5.30pm on the second Wednesday of every month and visitors are very welcome! For more information about volunteering and assisting the Trust please contact us.

About Us

The Wekiva Wilderness Trust is a nonprofit, volunteer group that supports the work of the basin parks. We are dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the Wekiva parks. Contact us to inquire about volunteer opportunities! There are many volunteer opportunities from helping to run the nature center and conducting guided walks to river patrol and assisting rangers in the park.

Wekiva Springs Animals

Here at Wekiwa Springs lives a great variety of wildlife. The following are only some of the animals that inhabit this pristine and diverse ecosystem. Black bears, deer, foxes, a wide range of birds, insects and plants are to be found. Every trip to the park provides a new opportunity to discover life.

Volunteer, Join or Donate

Help others to appreciate nature and preserve the environment by volunteering for WWT! There are many volunteer opportunities from helping to run the nature center and conducting guided walks to river patrol and assisting rangers in the park.

Nature Center Interpretive Pavilion

The nature center never closes and in 2016 had over 300,000 visitors. Originally opened in 1995 and since relocated this provides the venue for talks and the start for guided nature walks. The more volunteers we have, the more often we can allow interaction between our delightful live critters and our curious visitors.

“Each moment of the year has its own beauty . . . a picture which was never before and shall never be seen again.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Discovery Hour Schedule Oct 2017 – Mar 2018

The Nature Center Interpretive Pavilion is located on top of the hill above the springs, next to the restroom building at Wekiwa Springs State Park. It is not hard to find.

Discovery Hour programs start at the Pavilion every Sunday at 2:00 pm, unless otherwise stated.

Discovery Hours:  Oct 2017 thru March 2018

Date Topic Host
Oct 1    Reptiles of Central Florida John
Oct 8 Wildflower hike (starting at Sand Lake) Noreen
Oct 15 Get to know some bugs Moh
Oct 22 Florida raptors April
Oct 29 Florida threatened wildlife Debbie
Nov 5 Good bug, Bad bug Moh
Nov 12 Wildflower hike (starting at Sand Lake) Noreen
Nov 19 Family hike (starting at Sand Lake) Crystal
Nov 26 Florida Retiles John
Dec 3 Family hike (starting at Sand Lake) Crystal
Dec 10 Protecting FL water resources April
Dec 17 Kids story time Debbie
Dec 24 Kids story time Debbie
Dec 31 Kids story time Debbie
Jan 7 Edible FL Don
Jan 14 Nature walk Jane
Jan 21 FL threatened wildlife Debbie
Jan 28 Family hike (starting at Sand Lake) Crystal
Feb 4 Florida Reptiles John
Feb 11 Basic survival Don
Feb 18 Prescribed burns explained ranger
Feb 25 Story time Debbie
Mar 4 Family hike (starting at Sand Lake) Crystal
Mar 11 Nature walk Jane
Mar 18 Extinct FL animals Debbie
Mar 25 Family hike (starting at Sand Lake) Crystal

Special Serenity Garden Coming to Wekiwa Springs Park

Serenity Garden Final Concept

Serenity Garden Final Concept, Click to download plan

After months of detailed fine tuning, the final concept design for the Serenity Garden at Wekiwa Springs State has now been completed. Even though construction has not yet started, the garden, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, has already attracted the attention of the medical and therapeutic community.

Faculty and graduate students from Adventist University of Health Science’s Occupational Therapy Department recently spent two days at the site as groundwork for the first evidence-based research study to be performed at the garden.

The ongoing study will explore quality of life impacts of the Serenity Garden’s design and programs for four specified groups: seniors, people who have lost their sight, Wounded Warrior Veterans, and children and adults with autism.

National and regional expertise has been engaged in designing the garden according to the evidence-based principles established by the American Therapeutic Horticultural Association. The garden, the first of its kind in any state or national park, represents the next innovative wave in the movement to expand equitable access to nature for people of all ages and diverse abilities.

It will offer a peaceful, welcoming retreat in which people of all ages and abilities can feel comfortable while enjoying unique experiences surrounded by nature. The garden, which has doubled in size, will transform one-acre of disturbed land behind the existing nature education center. Lushly landscaped with a regional palette of native plants, the garden will feature interactive and sensory elements, and enhanced opportunities for relaxation, exercise, social gathering, education, and therapeutic programming.

The use of specialty gardens for the enrichment of human health and wellness dates all the way back to the Middle Ages. In the 21st century, here in the United States, research at major hospitals and universities began to produce a body of modern evidence, and it is now understood that time spent in green spaces can benefit human health in ways both culturally significant and scientifically measurable.
Through its participation in this research, the American Therapeutic Horticultural Association eventually solidified a set of evidence-based principles which became the standards for the development of gardens used for therapeutic purposes.

Gardens now serve in therapeutic capacities at many hospitals, rehabilitation centers, psychiatric facilities, nursing homes and vocational rehabilitation programs all across the country but none are as comprehensive as the Serenity Garden at Wekiwa.

The landscape architecture has been specifically designed to the highest possible standards and purposes of accessibility, universal design, education, safety, and enjoyment by visitors of all ages and abilities. The design represent a seamless melding of highly accessible features that support sensory, physical, and emotional restoration and revitalization for visitors with diverse needs and abilities, and facilitates the highest possible level of enhanced opportunity and engagement for recreational activity, exercise, educational, and therapeutic programming for visitors of all ages and abilities.

Detailed site plans are now being prepared to allow work on the hardscape to begin in the next few weeks.

For more information go to www.serenity-wekiwa.com.

Imagine Our Florida – new website to watch

Imagine our Florida is a new website from a new 501c3 whose mission is to preserve and protect Florida’s natural resources, wildlife and land. Go to www.imagineourflorida.org to check it out.
The group was created as a result of last year’s bear hunt which brought together thousands of bear lovers, conservationists and environmentalists from around the state and beyond. The mission has now widened to include protecting all Florida’s natural resources and especially bears, manatees and panthers.

Shop at Amazon Smile and support WWT

Planning your holiday shopping yet?
If so, shop at Amazon Smile and designate Wekiva Wilderness Trust as your chosen charity. A percentage of everything you buy goes to the WWT and it doesn’t cost you a penny. Click
here

Thank you to all our wonderful Serenity volunteers

What a great day today and what a fantastic way to celebrate National Public Lands Day at Wekiwa Springs State Park. Almost 50 volunteers turned out to clear the ground for Wekiwa’s new Serenity Garden and move the project one step closer to becoming a reality. The half-acre site, between the nature center and the parking lot, is now almost clear of vegetation and a detailed survey of the ground can now take place before the garden design is finalized. If you are interested in helping with the project by volunteering or donating please contact us at info@wwt-cso.com.
To learn more about the project click here

Wekiva PaintOut – Thank you

Many thanks to everyone who supported our 9th week-long Wekiva PaintOut – the artists, the buyers, Wekiva Island and all the volunteers who made it possible. See you all next year Feb 28-March 6 for our 10th.

American Alligator

American Alligator

American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)

The American Alligator inhabits the southeastern United States. Their life spans can exceed 60 yrs. Alligators occur on the Atlantic Coast of North America from Florida through coastal North Carolina, and along the Gulf Coast into Texas. They eat fish, turtles, wading birds, snakes, frogs, small mammals and even smaller alligators.

Gray Fox

Gray Foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus floridanus)

Gray Foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus floridanus)

The gray fox is one of Florida’s most commonly seen carnivores. They feed on small animals, acorns, fruit and insects, but they will also scavenge road-killed animals. They are active at night and usually hunt alone. Gray Foxes are abundant in hardwood forests, pine-oak woodlands and brushy fields.

Sherman’s Fox Squirrel

Sherman's Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger shermani)

Sherman’s Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger shermani)

Sherman’s Fox Squirrel occurs in peninsular Florida to the north end of Lake Okeechobee, and is more than twice the size of the common gray squirrel. It is probably destined for eventual “endangered” status. Fox squirrels are selective in their habitat needs. They depend mostly on pine seeds for food in the summer and on acorns during the remainder of the year.

Barred Owl

Barred Owl (Strix varia)

Barred Owl (Strix varia)

This owl is most often seen by those who seek it out in its dark retreat, usually a thick grove of trees in lowland forest. There it rests quietly during the day. It emerges at night to feed on rodents, birds, frogs, and crayfish. It is know by it’s familiar “who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-you-all” hooting.

Florida Black Bear

Florida Black Bear (Ursus americanus floridanus)

Florida Black Bear (Ursus americanus floridanus)

The Florida black bear is the largest native land mammal in Florida. It is shy and secretive, hiding in dense vegetation and rarely seen in the wild. Bears are omnivores, meaning they eat both vegetable and animal matter. Some foods they may eat include acorns, insects, berries, saw palmetto, armadillos, honey and bee larvae.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

The largest and most widespread heron in North America, the Great Blue Heron can be found along the ocean shore or the edge of a small inland pond. Though they are best known as fishers, mice constitute a large part of their diet, and they also eat insects and other small creatures.

Raccoon

Raccoon (Procyon lotor)

Raccoon (Procyon lotor)

Raccoons can be found just about everywhere, because they will eat just about anything. They are found in forests, marshes, prairies, and even in cities. They are adaptable and use their dexterous front paws and long fingers to find and feast on a wide variety of fare. Their life span in the wild is 2 to 3 years.

Gopher Tortoise

Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus Polyphemus)

Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus Polyphemus)

Gopher tortoises live in dry, upland habitats that have well-drained soils for them to dig their burrows. Their common habitat includes: pine flatwoods, xeric oak, sand pine, scrub oak, agricultural lands, and coastal dune and scrub. Their diet consists of grasses and legumes. The Gopher Tortoise is listed as a threatened species.

Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

A common forest-dwelling hawk of the East and California, the Red-shouldered Hawk favors woodlands near water, but may also nest in suburban areas. It is perhaps the most vocal American hawk. It preys on snakes and frogs. It also eats insects and small mammals. Its call is a loud two syllable scream.

Corn Snake

Corn Snake, also called 'Rat Snake' (Elaphe guttata)

Corn Snake, also called ‘Rat Snake’ (Elaphe guttata)

Corn snakes are slender with a length of 24 to 72 inches. They feed on mice, rats, birds, and bats. They are constrictors. They are found in the eastern United States from southern New Jersey south through Florida, west to Louisiana and parts of Kentucky. They help to control rodent populations that may otherwise spread disease

River Otter

River Otter (Lutra Canadensis)

River Otter (Lutra Canadensis)

The river otter is a long, elongated water-loving animal found throughout Florida except the Keys. This playful animal is found from Mexico north to Alaska. They are especially abundant throughout Canada. Otters inhabit lakes ponds, marshes and inland waterways.

Eastern Box Turtle

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina bauri)

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina bauri)

The Florida Box Turtle is one of the well known subspecies of Eastern Box Turtle. Box Turtles are usually seen early in the day, or after a rain. They are fond of slugs, earthworms, wild strawberries, and mushrooms. If habitat conditions remain constant, a Box Turtle may spend its life in an area scarcely larger than a football field.

Striped Mud Turtle

Striped Mud Turtle (Kinosternon baurii)

Striped Mud Turtle (Kinosternon baurii)

This small Endangered Turtle at maturity reaches only about five inches and is easily identified by its three yellow or creamy beige stripes. The Striped Mud Turtle prefers swampy, shallow, still waters and is found most anywhere in Florida. The Striped Mud Turtle is omnivorous and will investigate nearly anything it comes across, including cow dung.