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

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.

Wood Duck

WoodDuck-male

Male Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

WoodDuck-female

Female Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

Males are iridescent chestnut and green, with ornate patterns on nearly every feather; the females have a distinctive profile and delicate white pattern around the eye. They live in wooded swamps, where they nest in holes in trees or in nest boxes put up around lake margins. They are one of the few duck species with claws that can grip bark and perch on branches.

Bobcat

Bobcat

Bobcat (Lynx Rufus)

Bobcats can be found in every county in Florida and in most states in the country. They are so named because of their ‘bobbed’ tail. The eastern cottontail, marsh rabbit and cotton rat are their primary prey. By feeding on these animals, the bobcat provides a necessary control on their populations.

Eastern River Cooter

Eastern River Cooter

Eastern River Cooter (Pseudemys concinna concinna)

The eastern river cooter (Pseudemys concinna concinna) is a freshwater turtle native to the central and eastern United States, from Virginia south to mid-Georgia, west to eastern Texas, Oklahoma, and north to southern Indiana. They are usually found in rivers with moderate current, as well as lakes and tidal marshes.

Eastern River Cooters are capable of growing up to 16 inches (41 cm). The upper shell is typically dark greenish-brown with pale yellow markings. The skin is dark green with yellow stripes down the neck and legs. The bottom shell is yellow with a dark pattern that follows the scute seams. They are often confused with yellow-bellied sliders, which also have yellow stripes and yellow bottom shells, but the latter have green spots along their bellies.

As these turtles grow older, they tend to become very darker, obscuring much of the shell design. Wide, sometimes dark-edged, stripes under the chin form an upside-down “Y”. Males have a broader tail and may have a slightly concave bottom shell. Females tend to grow larger than males, and have a smaller tail and more convex bottom shell.

Pine Snake

Pine Snake (Pituophis melanoleucus)

Pine Snake (Pituophis melanoleucus)

The Florida pine snake is a magnificent animal that primarily inhabits pinelands. Its numbers appear to have declined significantly because of habitat loss; road mortality has also contributed to its demise. They are creamy blackish-brown in color with reddish bands and blotches that are more prominent toward the rear of the snake. They also have a relatively pointed snout with a triangular-shaped scale. When threatened, pine snakes will try to flee, but if retreat is not an option they will coil, rear up, and hiss loudly in an attempt to intimidate their attacker. They will often enter pocket gopher burrows in search of the small burrowing mammal – one of their favorite foods.

Coyote

Coyote (Canis latrans)

Coyote (Canis latrans)

Eradication of wolves and increased agricultural development during the 1900s enabled coyotes to expand across most of North America. Appearing in the Panhandle during the 1960s, coyotes now occur throughout Florida and are sometimes observed in urban areas. Neither introduced nor native, coyotes are usually classified as a naturalized species. In rare instances, feral dogs and coyotes may mate and produce hybrid “coy-dogs.” Coyotes can be identified by their rusty brown bushy tail. They can weigh between 25 and 35 lbs. They have one litter a year usually with six pups although the number of pups is related to the available food supply.

Nine-Banded Armadillo

Nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)

Nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)

The nine-banded armadillo is a burrowing insectivore. The armadillo primarily uses burrows for shelter and den sites, although they can dig very rapidly and may burrow to escape danger. Armadillos belong to the order Edentata, which includes anteaters, sloths, and armadillos. The word edentate means “without teeth,” and armadillos and other species in this order have reduced, degenerate teeth or lack teeth completely. Armadillos have long tapered snouts and long, sticky tongues they use to capture ants, termites, grubs, and other insects. Eggs of ground nesting birds and small snakes and lizards may be eaten occasionally. Armadillos are unique in that they are the only armored mammal. The nine-banded armadillo has 9 flexible plates attached to shoulder and hip shields. The armadillo is not native to Florida and is believed to have been introduced in the early 1900s. However, during the Pleistocene, Florida was home to a giant armadillo (Holmesina septentrionalis), which was approximately the size of a refrigerator and weighed more than 600 pounds. The nine-banded armadillo is native to the southwestern U.S.A., Mexico, and Central and South America and is one of 21 species of armadillos that occur in the Americas. Armadillos construct multiple burrows to 25 feet deep that provide habitat for numerous native species.

Green Anole

Green Anole  (Anolis carolinensis)

Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)

The color of green anoles may vary depending on their surroundings, mood, temperature, and health, however they are not related to chameleons. They are excellent climbers and spend most of their time in trees and shrubs. Anoles are territorial and they defend territories with displays and, if necessary, aggressive combat. The “dewlap” (flap of skin at the base of the throat) can be extended like a flag to signal adversaries and potential mates. Green anoles are prey to many species – birds, snakes, and mammals. One of the greatest threats (aside from habitat loss) to green anoles, however, is from non-native anoles like the brown anole.

Brown Anole

Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei)

Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei)

The brown/Cuban anole is the most common exotic lizard in Florida and has been recorded in every peninsular county. They are conspicuous around homes in residential areas and among ornamental vegetation in parking lots. Although our native green anoles can coexist with brown anoles, there is competition between these species for food and space. The color patterns of this species are highly variable, but are always shades of brown.

WWT Code of Ethics

The Wekiva Wilderness Trust is a non-profit volunteer organization controlled by an elected board of officers and directors. Every member of the board has to agree to comply with the WWT Code of Ethics. To read the Code please go to the Volunteer page.

Discovery Hour at Wekiwa Springs

Feb  21   2 pm.Edible Florida and Basic Survival Techniques  Don P.
Feb 28    10 am. Florida’s Springs and the Wekiwa Watershed.  April
March 7 10 am.  Successful composting. Sue
March 14  10 am.Prescribed burns explained.  Ranger
March 21  10 am.Walking Wekiva. How to get the most out of the trails.* Don B
March 28 10 am. Florida’s threatened wildlife. Debbie
April 4  10 am. Edible Florida and Basic Survival Techniques  Don P.

* Some walking required

Survival Boot Camp

We will be holding our next basic survival boot camp on Saturday January 11 from 10 am to 4 pm. It will be at Rock Springs Run State Reserve which is off SR 46 near Sorrento. From the Wekiva area take Markham Wood Road north until you reach SR 46. Make a left turn and proceed for about three miles or so and the entrance to the park will be on your left. It is shortly after you go over the bear crossing underpass. We will meet up just inside the entrance and then convoy to our training area. You do not have to pay the entry fee.
The course has been designed for family group participation so everyone knows what to do if a hurricane, tornado or other natural disaster destroyed their homes. Of course, all the techniques are good skills to use in the great outdoors. The boot camp will cover survival techniques, field first aid, foraging for food and water, building a shelter and lighting a fire (bow and drill technique).

Apart from water, bug spray, sun screen and lunch, you will each need:
– About 20 feet of strong string, parachute cord or similar
– Two large black garbage bags and a knife.

The cost for the workshop is $10 a person payable on the day and if you have any questions please call me at 321-277-8442 or email dp@donphilpott.com

It will be fun and informative, best wishes, don

Read our latest newsletter

President’s Letter

pavilion_image1It’s been another busy year in the park with lots for all our volunteers to do.
Construction of the new Interpretive Pavilion which will house the new nature
center, is also complete. The move will allow the concession to expand and,
hopefully, make lots more money for the park, and our new location is going to
be much more prominent—at the top of the green above the springs so everyone
should be able to see us.
The move will be a complicated one but we hope the downtime when the nature
center is closed can be kept to a minimum. It will also allow us to plan the new
nature centre so that we can better display our exhibits and have more hands-on
activities for the children.
The 26th Annual Real Florida 5K and 10K race and fun walk took place in the
park on February 23rd and the annual PaintOut, sponsored by Wekiva Island
and WSSP, took place from March 3-10th. Both events were very successful
and between them made a profit of almost $15,000. Next year’s Real Florida
run is on Saturday, February 22 and the Paint Out runs from March 2-8.
River Patrol goes from strength to strength with 10 new volunteers successfully
completing the water safety training course. As a result, we were able to have
volunteers patrolling the Wekiva in force each day of the Labor Day holiday
weekend. Another training class will be held soon and if you are interested in
taking this to volunteer for River Patrol, let me know.
pavilion_image2Volunteers act as ambassadors—able to answer questions, help river users in
trouble and look out for fallen trees and other maintenance tasks that need to be
done. The presence of the River Patrol also discourages people from breaking
park and river rules and regulations. It is fun, rewarding and necessary so please
consider it.
We’d love to welcome you on board.

For whole newsletter and great photos of the new pavilion click link below:

newsletter5.Fall13

Work starts on the new interpretive pavilion

We have broken ground on the new interpretive pavilion and nature center and you should see some pretty rapid developments from now on. The area has been pegged out and the heavy equipment is preparing the site for the foundations. Once the concrete has been laid the pavilion will be erected and then the nature center will be incorporated into it. It will take a few months but the new pavilion is in a much better location so should attract many more visitors. Part of the pavilion is going to be used for interpretive programs and an outside classroom for use by all the schools in the tri-county area we serve. If you would like more information or would like to donate please contact us at info@wwt-cso.com.

Work starts on the new pavilion and nature center

Work starts on the new pavilion and nature center

Preparing the ground for the pavilion foundations.

Preparing the ground for the pavilion foundations.

Discovery Hour Interpretive Programs

June 15. Behind the scenes tram tour with park manager Warren Poplin. Warren
June 22. Florida’s critters. Come and meet some live animals. Debbie
June 29. Protecting Florida’s waterways and water resources. Virginia
July 6. Florida’s Extinct critters—Don P
July 13. Never get lost again. The art of orientation. Greg/Bob
July 20. Florida’s raptors.
July 27. The sounds of nature. Phyllis
Aug 3 Life as a Timucuan Indian. Charlene
Aug 10 Turpentining in Wekiwa. Denis
Aug 17. Florida’s critters. Don P
Aug 24 Edible Florida and Basic Survival Techniques Don P
Aug 31. Successful wildlife photography. Amy
Sept 7. Florida’s Springs and the Wekiwa Watershed. Virginia
Sept 14. Successful composting. Sue
Sept 21. Edible Florida and Basic Survival Techniques. Don P
Sept 28. Prescribed burns explained. Scott
Oct 5. Florida’s threatened wildlife. Debbie
Oct 12. Walking Wekiva. How to get the most out of the trails.* Don B
Oct 19. Protecting Florida’s waterways and water resources. Virginia
*Requires some walking.
All other activities are held outside the nature center and are suitable for everyone.