New Wetlands Park Grand Opening Saturday

Lakeland’s Se7en Wetlands Park’s grand opening is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Gopher Tortoise entrance at the southeast corner of Loyce Harpe Park off Carter Road in Mulberry

Workers were busy late this week putting the finishing touches on the entrance area.

The park has 8.5 miles of trails in the current phase—more is planned later—along a former phosphate mine dike system with side trails at wooded edges and wetland edges.

I took a leisurely three-hour hike through much of the site this week and can report the site offers a variety of flora and fauna and a potential to become a good wildlife-viewing site if managed properly.

Among the species I saw on my visit were various wading birds, such as great egrets and black-crowned night herons, spotted sandpiper, monarch and several other species of butterflies, a good variety of dragonflies, lots of wildflowers and an osprey flying overhead. In the distance across one of the ponds I could see wood storks and roseate spoonbills.

Entry is free from either Loyce Harpe or Lakeland Highlands Scrub.

Check it out.