Field trips for FLEPPC 2006 Conference

All field trips will be limited to the first 20 registrants.

For questions, contact Michael Meisenburg at (352) 392-6894 or






1)      Ichetucknee Springs State Park (CEUís: none)

10:00 am to 3:00 pm


An eco-adventurerís travel to North-central Florida is not complete without a float trip down the Ichetucknee River.  Florida Park Service biologist Cathy Nagler will be leading the party down the river in canoes, discussing how theyíve organized the parkís successful program of using a legion of water lettuce-slinging volunteers to eradicate the plant from the upstream portion of the river. The group will stop halfway to enjoy lunch delivered by park volunteers.  A lunch charge of $5 will cover a half-sub from Publix and soda (or $8 for a full sub and soda); please pay and place order in the morning at the park.  Swimming in the cool crystal-clear water is allowed, and made better if you bring a mask and fins.  Meet at meet at the Head Spring Parking Lot by the north entrance of the park.  Itís about a 1-hour drive from the Paramount Plaza Hotel.  Park information and directions



2)      San Felasco Hammock and Devilís Millhopper Geological State Parks (CEUís: none)

8:00 am to noon


Park biologist Sam Cole will lead this half-day trip checking out some of the more interesting natural features of Northwest Gainesville.  In San Felasco Hammock State Park, Sam will lead the group into an area known as Bromeliad Pond.  Named for the abundant epiphytes, this area has many sinkholes that have become planer elm swamps.  The elms provide ideal substrate for epiphytes, and are covered in bromeliads and orchids.  If they are dry, walking through these communities is a unique experience.  From there, the group will head down the road into the depths of the Devilís Millhopper, the massive sinkhole that fueled local speculation as to its origin for years.  Sam will also discuss invasive plant efforts at these sites, including a coral ardisia manual removal program.  Meet at the San Felasco Hammock SP parking lot on Millhopper Road in NW Gainesville, 3.5 miles west of Devilís Millhopper SP.  A half-hour drive from the Paramount Plaza Hotel. Directions 



3)      Morningside Nature Center (CEUís: none)

8:00 am to noon


City of Gainesville staff will lead the group through this 278-acre site, where a prescribe burning and replanting campaign are bringing back a very nice sandhill community.  Populations of bobwhite and gopher tortoises are rebounding, and four species of orchids (new to the preserve) were found in 2005.  Sandhill is a great community, and staff will discuss what theyíre doing to bring it back.  Meet at the Morningside Nature Center parking lot just past the farm exhibit. Itís about a 20-minute drive from the Paramount Plaza Hotel.  Directions 



4)      University of Florida (CEUís: 1 NA)

12:30 pm to 4:30 pm


Urban forester Erick Smith will lead the group around the campus and discuss the invasive plant problems that 150 years of being one of the leading agricultural and horticultural universities in the Southeast brings.  Amid the brick buildings and sprightly young coeds, remnant 300 year-old longleaf pines remain on campus because of people like Erick.  Meet at the Natural Area Teaching Laboratory Park, just north off Archer Road on Surge Area Drive (across from the Entomology Dept..  A fifteen-minute drive from the Paramount Plaza Hotel.  Site information and directions



5)      Payneís Prairie Preserve State Park (CEUís: 1 NA)

8:00 am to noon


Park biologist Jim Weimer will lead a tour along the Payneís Prairie northern rim.  Called the ďRim Ramble,Ē this walk is probably the best hike in the state park.  The group will meet at the FDEP District II office on the northern edge of the prairie basin, where Jim will discuss the parkís invasive plant efforts and strategies, including how they prioritize which species to target.  From there, the group will hike east along the rim, where many of the numerous sinkholes are unique from the others, each dominated by a certain species not found in the others.  This is a long walk; about 4Ĺ miles round-trip.  A fifteen-minute drive from the Paramount Plaza.  Directions/Map


6)      Hogtown Prairie (CEUís: none)

1:00 pm to 5:00 pm


Hogtown Prairie sits southwest of Gainesville near where Hogtown Creek enters the Floridan aquifer. Most of this approximately 500-acre prairie basin is under public ownership. Split Rock conservation area, owned and managed by the City of Gainesville, is a 241-acre preserve containing the northern edge of Hogtown Prairie, and one of the last remaining fragments of the diverse calcareous mesic hammock known as Sugarfoot Hammock. City staff will lead a tour through the forest, and depending on water levels, along the edge of the prairie. Meet at the Walgreens parking lot (directions).  A half-hour drive from the Paramount Plaza Hotel.       



7)      Chainsaw maintenance, safety, and operation; BASFís Quality Vegetation Management program with Gainesville Regional Utilities (CEUís: 2-2.5 Core/NA/ROW/AQ & 1 ROW/NA)

8:00 am to noon


The first two hours with be at the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants on Millhopper Road in NW Gainesville, where Michael Surrena from Stihl will discuss chainsaw maintenance and safety and proper tree-cutting techniques. Then we will travel a mile down the road where Phil Waller with BASF will discuss their Quality Vegetation Management program, and their partnership with Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) in setting up a demonstration site under a powerline right-of-way.  Joe Wolf (GRU) will discuss the benefits, such as enhanced quality of wildlife habitat and decreased maintenance costs.  Joe and staff will demonstrate some of their techniques for low-volume herbicide applications.  A half-hour drive from the Paramount Plaza Hotel.  Directions



8)      Kanapaha Botanical Garden (CEUís: none):

1:00 pm to 5:00 pm


This 62-acre garden was developed and is operated by the North Florida Botanical Society.  KBG is comprised of 14 major collections visually accessible from a 1 Ĺ mile paved walkway, including the state's largest public display of bamboos and the largest herb garden in the Southeast. Some of Kanapaha's gardens are organized taxonomically; others demonstrate principles of ecology or natural selection. Kanapaha's signature plants include a premier stand of Chinese royal bamboo (Wong Chuk), giant Victoria water lilies, and Asian snake arums.  This field trip is not an organized trip, but a way to save on the entrance fee.  Adult admission is $5, but if at least 10 people enter as a group, the cost is $3.75 each.  Meet in the parking lot. A twenty-minute drive from the Paramount Plaza Hotel.  Site information  



Other canít-misses for eco-adventurers (CEUís: none):


The Florida Museum of Natural History is a great place to visit.  If youíve never been there, you wonít be disappointed.  Their side-by-side skeletons of American mastodon and Columbia mammoth offer unparalleled comparisons of these two creatures--both excavated from Florida rivers.  The Museum has rotating traveling exhibits, and the exhibit scheduled for April is Glow: Living Lights, an exhibit about bioluminescence.  Admission is free.  If you go to the museum, you might want to check out the impressive Butterfly Rainforest.  It opened in 2004, and has become very popular.  Unlike the museum, there is a charge ($7.50 for adults).


If youíve ever wanted to go on a fossil dig, maybe you will want to stay another day in Gainesville to go on the FLMNHís Tapir Challenge.  The Challenge is a Pliocene Epoch fossil dig, where the museum enlists volunteers to excavate an ancient sinkhole about 15 miles west of Gainesville.  Bones from about 30 extinct species are abundant and easily excavated.  You must register ahead of time.  For more information, go to, and search for ďtapir challenge.Ē


A visit to the University of Florida should include an evening at the UF Bathouse.  Every night of the year, people flock to the bathouse to witness around 100,000 bats leaving the house.  Most are Brazilian free-tailed, but about 1,000 Southeastern bats share the residence.  Built in 1991 to lure bats from the stadium, it is the largest bathouse in the country.   The bathouse is across the northern shoreline of Lake Alice.  Arrive at dusk to witness the event, which will be at approximately 8:00 pm in late April.  Raptors often join the spectacle for their sunset bat supper.