South Central Florida eco-tour planned by Friends

March 22, 2019
By Marcy Shortuse

Join the Friends of Boca Grande on an eco-tour of South Central Florida to learn about ancient habitats that are home to the elusive scrub jay, the restoration of the Kissimmee River, the Florida ranching industry, and why this is important to coastal communities.
The trip is scheduled for April 1 and 2 and is limited to 16 adults.
The highlights of this trip will include exploring the Kissimmee River & Restoration Project aboard the U.S. Coast Guard-certified pontoon vessel Kissimmee Explorer II, and embarking on a driving tour to see many of the breathtaking murals that are painted throughout Lake Placid.
Guests will enjoy cocktail hour and dinner at the Archbold Biological Station, where they’ll learn how its cutting edge research has created real conservation solutions across diverse ecosystems. The group will also tour a cattle ranch and ecology research center aboard an 18-seater swamp buggy, where visitors often see alligators, caracara, red-shouldered hawks, feral hogs and deer.
The cost of the trip is $595 per person, double occupancy, or $685 for single occupancy.
The group will leave Boca Grande Community Center at 7 a.m. sharp, stay overnight at Holiday Inn Express and return to Boca Grande by 7 p.m. the next day. Round trip transportation is included from Boca Grande in a 35-passenger mini-bus with bucket seats and extra headroom. The ticket covers all meals, including a wine/beer reception (one breakfast, two lunches and one dinner), lodging accommodations at Holiday Inn Express and all entrance fees and tour costs.
Friends of Boca Grande Executive Director Marta Howell said Friends offers two eco-tours and two Everglades trips each season.
“The first one we did was in 2015,” Howell said. “The idea came from Audubon photographer Mac Stone. He has done some fabulous photography and said that the best way to see the Everglades is to go and experience it yourself.”
Since the first excursion, Howell has been exploring different ecological areas throughout Florida to set up future eco-tours.
“We are already in the process of planning the 2020 trips,” she said. “We will probably schedule them January through April.”
The trips are usually two full days and one night.
She said that next year they may plan a trip to northern Florida, which might end up being three full days and two nights.
“We don’t want to drive that far and not be able to see everything while we’re in the area,” she said.
For more information on the trips, call (941) 964-0827.