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Public invited to Tosohatchee WMA to have fun

On Saturday, Dec. 9, the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area will host a day of fun and exploration celebrating Florida’s 75-year history of conserving native species and habitats on its wildlife management areas.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) invites the public to enjoy this free, family-friendly Tosohatchee WMA event, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Only 15 minutes from downtown Orlando, Tosohatchee WMA has woodlands and waterways reminiscent of Florida in the 1940s, when the first wildlife management area was created in the state. Osceola wild turkey and white-tailed deer roam here. Purple gallinules and roseate spoonbills pick their way through marshes flowing into the St. Johns River. Bald eagles and swallow-tailed kites can be spotted, as well as flocks of migratory birds such as painted buntings making their winter stopovers.

“Tosohatchee is a spectacular piece of old Florida. We are a great getaway from urban areas,” said FWC wildlife biologist Tom Shupe.

On Saturday, participants at the Tosohatchee event will have opportunities to go on hay rides with biologists, meet FWC law enforcement officers and their K-9 companions, admire and judge the finalists submitted in the year-long WMA photo contest, and learn about the science behind the comeback of the Osceola wild turkey, which lives only in Florida.

“The 75th anniversary of Florida’s wildlife management areas inspired us in 2017 to throw outdoors celebrations all year long, from bioblitzes and bird-watching tours to geocaching and photo contests and volunteer work days,” said Jerrie Lindsey, who leads the FWC’s public access services office. “The Tosohatchee event tops off our quest to get more people out on WMAs enjoying both the wildlife and the recreational opportunities. We invite you to keep coming back to our WMAs year after year.”

“Wildlife management areas throughout the state give people of all ages and backgrounds a chance to experience beautiful areas that Florida is conserving for wildlife,” said David Johnson, head of the FWC’s Wildlife and Habitat Management Section that manages the WMAs. “There are a variety of outdoor activities, ranging from hunting and fishing to wildlife viewing, hiking, biking and primitive camping. There is also the simple pleasure of taking a leisurely drive through a WMA and stopping along the way for a picnic.”

What other fun activities can you expect at the Tosohatchee event?

You can experience muzzleloading and campfire cooking demonstrations, check out the variety of hands-on activities for kids, join Florida Trail Association volunteers on short woodland walks and take tours on how to identify native plants.

More about the WMAs’ 75th anniversary and the experiences that WMAs offer to Floridians and visitors all year-long is at MyFWC.com/WMA75.