Ocala National Forest questions!

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michael gatonska
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Ocala National Forest questions!

Post by michael gatonska » Sat May 19, 2012 7:17 am

Hi all;

Next week (May 25th - June 1) I will be staying very close to the Ocala National Forest. I want to spend two or three days there, and since it is a large park I wanted to ask which places are the points that I should definately make an attempt at seeing (for example, Juniper Prairie or Grasshopper Lake, etc.) ?

http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/ocala/maps-pubs

I plan on doing a lot of soundscape recording, so I would also like to ask if anyone has any recommendations for places in the park that really stood out as great locations for nature sounds.
Michael Gatonska
“What is essential, is invisible to the eye” –Antoine de Saint-Exupery
http://www.youtube.com/user/EcoEarSound ... sults_main

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Chris
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Re: Ocala National Forest questions!

Post by Chris » Sat May 19, 2012 12:24 pm

Juniper Prairie is what came to mind. Sandhill Cranes and Florida Scrub Jay are both great vocal birds and found in the area.

Also maybe check out Riverside Island [high Longleaf Pine upland with several woodpecker species]. There are several big springs, but most are develop and get lots of human use.

Finally, not in the National Forest, but Ocklawaha Prairie is between the forest and Ocala is very birdy.

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michael gatonska
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Re: Ocala National Forest questions!

Post by michael gatonska » Sat May 19, 2012 4:18 pm

Thanks Chris-
I will definately try Juniper Prairie first; it looks like at least a 4 mile hike from top to bottom, so I should be able to find some good spots to record.

The Riverside Island area looks interesting - thank you for the human dog walkers tip on that front. I will have to hike around there in the early hours...
Michael Gatonska
“What is essential, is invisible to the eye” –Antoine de Saint-Exupery
http://www.youtube.com/user/EcoEarSound ... sults_main

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PAwildernessadvocate
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Re: Ocala National Forest questions!

Post by PAwildernessadvocate » Sun May 20, 2012 4:28 pm

Although I've never actually been to the Ocala NF myself, if it was me I would probably gravitate toward the designated wilderness areas first.

Juniper Prairie is one, and there are also the Little Lake George, Billies Bay, and Alexander Springs Wilderness Areas in the Ocala NF.

Also in close proximity are the two units of the Lake Woodruff Wilderness Area, under the jurisdiction of the USFWS.

Little Lake George Wilderness
http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fus ... ew&WID=325

Juniper Prairie Wilderness
http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fus ... ew&WID=284

Billies Bay Wilderness
http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fus ... iew&WID=48

Alexander Springs Wilderness
http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fus ... View&WID=6

Lake Woodruff Wilderness (Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge)
http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fus ... ab=General

http://www.wilderness.net/map.cfm?xmin= ... 33159.1772
Ocala.jpg
"There is no better way to save biodiversity than by preserving habitat, and no better habitat, species for species, than wilderness." --Edward O. Wilson

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michael gatonska
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Re: Ocala National Forest questions!

Post by michael gatonska » Mon May 21, 2012 12:30 pm

This is very helpful, and first time I have seen wilderness.net - a great resource which I will use again, so thank you for your post.

I was going to try Juniper Prairie first; judging from the map and its size, it looks like a good area to start exploring. Billies Bay looks good too - swamps!

Also, I tried to contact the Forest Service at Ocala. The operator I briefly spoke with quickly mentioned something about applying for a special use permit or some other permit with a bureaucratic-sounding name, so maybe this is not the route to take. Anyway, I have not heard back from them yet.
Michael Gatonska
“What is essential, is invisible to the eye” –Antoine de Saint-Exupery
http://www.youtube.com/user/EcoEarSound ... sults_main

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jamesrobertsmith
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Re: Ocala National Forest questions!

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Mon May 21, 2012 7:39 pm

Juniper Prairie is wonderful. The wildlife is great. I would take a kayak down the spring run rather than a canoe because of all of the logs and low hanging limbs. We used a canoe and managed it, but realized the whole time that kayaks would have been a whole lot easier on us.

If you're already at Juniper Springs, then most of the other big springs are within striking distance, so I'd hit as many as possible.

The Silver River is fun to paddle and has a good stretch where no motorboats are allowed. The deepest and fastest flowing of the spring-fed rivers in the area. It does have a lot of alligators and if you're lucky you'll see one of the troops of rhesus monkeys who live along the river.

Alexander Springs is also a good one. My personal favorite for swimming is Salt Spring. The mineral content is so high that the spring has saltwater species living in it, including enormous blue crabs that live around the main vent. No one's allowed to fish them out, so they have gotten really huge.The runs leading down toward the big lake are fun to paddle and packed with wildlife.

It's actually a superlative area. There's a fair black bear population in that area, too. I've forgotten the name of one of the wilderness areas where I went hiking last time I was down, but it was also full of wildlife--Florida parks and wild lands are the best for wildlife of any spot where I've hiked or paddled. Better even than places like the Smokies or Yellowstone.

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PAwildernessadvocate
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Re: Ocala National Forest questions!

Post by PAwildernessadvocate » Tue May 22, 2012 10:30 am

michael gatonska wrote:This is very helpful, and first time I have seen wilderness.net - a great resource which I will use again, so thank you for your post.
You're welcome. Yes, Wilderness.net is a good resource (I have it set as my "home page" on my internet browser). And, they seem to continually work to improve it, adding little wrinkles and upgrades and services and so forth all the time.
"There is no better way to save biodiversity than by preserving habitat, and no better habitat, species for species, than wilderness." --Edward O. Wilson

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michael gatonska
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Re: Ocala National Forest questions!

Post by michael gatonska » Wed May 23, 2012 7:30 am

James-
Very glad that you chimed in here- I was actually going to try and canoe Juniper Creek, since (I believe) the canoes can be rented - I don't own one. But for that type of excursion, I will definately investigate Silver River or Alexander Springs, which I was planning on going to anyway. Salt Spring sounds really interesting.

This is my first trip to any of the Florida parks, so I am happy to hear your opinion on the full wildlife. I have hiked Yellowstone,Teton, and the Smokies - but in my experience thus far (pre-Florida trip), the wildlife in Glacier has been the most thrilling. Thanks for your post James.
Michael Gatonska
“What is essential, is invisible to the eye” –Antoine de Saint-Exupery
http://www.youtube.com/user/EcoEarSound ... sults_main

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michael gatonska
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Re: Ocala National Forest questions!

Post by michael gatonska » Wed May 23, 2012 7:34 am

You're welcome. Yes, Wilderness.net is a good resource (I have it set as my "home page" on my internet browser). And, they seem to continually work to improve it, adding little wrinkles and upgrades and services and so forth all the time.[/quote]

Yes, I saved this in my Favorites - I want to try it out on the Connecticut and Southern NE trails and park sites.
Last edited by michael gatonska on Wed May 23, 2012 7:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
Michael Gatonska
“What is essential, is invisible to the eye” –Antoine de Saint-Exupery
http://www.youtube.com/user/EcoEarSound ... sults_main

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michael gatonska
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Re: Ocala National Forest questions!

Post by michael gatonska » Wed May 23, 2012 7:35 am

michael gatonska wrote:You're welcome. Yes, Wilderness.net is a good resource (I have it set as my "home page" on my internet browser). And, they seem to continually work to improve it, adding little wrinkles and upgrades and services and so forth all the time.
Yes, I saved this in my Favorites - I want to try it out on the Connecticut and Southern NE trails and park sites when I get back!
Michael Gatonska
“What is essential, is invisible to the eye” –Antoine de Saint-Exupery
http://www.youtube.com/user/EcoEarSound ... sults_main

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