Thursday, August 6, 2015

An open letter to Hernando County (Florida)

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Ancient cypresses at Cypress Lakes Preserve
Ancient cypresses at Cypress Lakes Preserve
Dear Hernando County Commissioners,
It was ironic the way our visit played out. Rain pelted us on the drive up I-75, so we almost sought shelter with your neighbor to the south, Pasco County. But we were on a mission to visit and photograph a trail in your county for our new book, so we decided to stay near Ridge Manor, instead. I was sitting in the hotel room, catching up on the week’s news, when I saw this article in the Tampa Bay Times.
I was incredulous. Your program was the reason for our visit. You may be unaware of this, but the Florida Trail traverses your county. It’s one of eleven Congressionally-designated National Scenic Trails in America. My husband and I wrote the book on it. We were in your county to explore Cypress Lakes Preserve, one of eight Environmentally Sensitive Lands you’ve set aside for future generations. It provides a protected corridor for a portion of our National Scenic Trail.
We were here as travelers, spending money on a hotel room, food, and fuel. But more importantly, we were here as writers, with the intent of promoting a hike through Cypress Lakes Preserve to our rather substantial online audience and as a part of a new book. If it passed muster, of course.
Not all parts of the Florida Trail are as scenic as a National Scenic Trail should be. We chose Cypress Lakes Preserve because of its easy access from Interstate 75 and visitor services. The fact that it was part of the Enviromentally Sensitive Lands program meant there was a good chance we’d find a good reason to send visitors there.
And we did. Along the 1.6 mile trail (3.2 mile round-trip), we discovered patches ofParonychia rugelii, known commonly as Sand Squares. These are just one of several dozen wildflowers in the sandhills along the edge of the Cypress Lakes, not very common and certainly very showy.
Sand squares. Geometry expressed in nature.
Sand squares. Geometry expressed in nature.

The rest of the article can be found at the following link:

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