Friends of Tigertail annual member outing to Fakahatchee Strand Preserve

Allie Delventhal
Special to the Eagle
Members of Friends of Tigertail and volunteer guide Dave Boesche start their park tour.

Friends of Tigertail members plan an annual local environmentally-themed spring outing, and this year enjoyed an exceptionally educational and interesting excursion to the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park.

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A small alligator greeted the group at the park entrance before they boarded an open tram, where two volunteer guides pointed out many interesting features in the park as the vehicle traversed the dirt road.

Dave Boesche, the main guide and very knowledgeable master naturalist reviewed the history of the preserve. Previously logged for cypress trees, the 86,000 acres became the largest state park in Florida in 1986, home to many species of animals and plants. Though no mammals were in sight, several birds and many different trees and plants were observed.

An alligator greeting the group at the park entrance.

Boesche pointed out the different genders of cypress trees, with females having pine cones, and males producing seed sacks, mingling during the wet season to form new seedlings. Maple trees were noted, originally coming from Wisconsin during the ice age, and thriving in the Florida climate despite a bit of confusion regarding the seasons.

The importance of hammocks was described. These stands of trees, slightly higher than the surrounding ground, provide a dry resting place for many different animals, who tend not to be aggressive toward each other while there. Several large groups of lubber grasshoppers were noted, and though toxic to the birds while alive, are a safe treat once dried.

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Many fascinating facts about the park and its inhabitants were described, and the group came away grateful for the knowledge about this local environmental treasure.