Dan's Day Trips Part Two
The Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve is just off State Road 24, a few miles from it's namesake on the coast. Many speed on by without giving the reserve a second thought. But in Part Two of Dan's Day Trips, I'm taking a closer look and exploring all the reserve has to offer.
It may seem world away from Cedar Key, but it's just a few miles. Sparkling pristine sands beckon visitors to take a short hike around the reserve. And it's a walk on the wild side, because you never know what's around the bend.
Listen closely to hear the call of the Florida Scrub Jay, a threatened bird found only in the Sunshine State. Cedar Key Scrub State Park Manager Jeff DiMaggio has been in charge for almost a decade. He uses the scrub jay population as an indicator species. That means when they are doing well, the habitat is also thriving.
The reserve is a constantly changing environment. Some scrub is about 11 years old and has almost outlived it's usefulness. So the park uses controlled burns to manage the area. Across the trail, other scrub is about 4 years old and is almost ripe for the scrub jays to return.
What DiMaggio likes best is what makes this place unique--the diversity of plants and animals found. There are 12 different plant communities found within the reserve, everything from the hot and dry florida desert to the wet and dry tidal swamp.
With the tide out, we came at the perfect time to find another creature--the fiddler crab.
While about 24-thousand people a year visit the reserve, most visitors are searching for the same thing: the quiet and solitude. DiMaggio says it's a shame, many more thousands drive by without stopping to smell the roses.
"You hear all the time, people come in and say, 'well, 've driven past this so many times before, but I've never taken time to get out and look at it," says DiMaggio. "But it is really a unique place, tucked back in the corner."
The reserve has 12 miles of trails for walkers, horseback riders and cyclists. But between the signs and the blazes on the trees it would be tough to get lost. While the western portion of the park has more shade, depending on the season, you might get your feet wet.
"A lot of folks come to Cedar Key for the museums and things like that," says DiMaggio. "It gives them something to do outside and get out and see the native vegetation that's only unique to this area."
But just when we thought the adventure was behind us, right outside the reserve, we turn the corner and meet up with a massive gator searching for a new swimming hole to cool off in. Just another reminder why this place is so special.
"It is so much different than anything else you are going to find along the coast," says DiMaggio.
He adds that Spring can be the best time to catch a lot of the flowers in bloom, but there's never a bad day. But do make sure you bring plenty of water and a little insect repellant wouldn't hurt.
A special thanks to Jeff DiMaggio for giving me the grand tour.
Tomorrow night we're taking look back at the earliest beginnings of the area and I promise you don't have get out your history books to have a good time.
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV20 News
- Dan's Day Trips Part One
- Dan's Day Trips Part Three
- Dan's Day Trips Part Four
- A Romantic Dan's Day Trip
- Dan's Day Trips
- Dan's Day Trips Returns
- Dan's Day Trip Special
- "Dan's Day Trip Goes on the Road"
- Part Two of U.F. President Bernie Machen's exclusive interview with WCJB
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