What is this Blog all about? We love this part of Florida. Not just for the weather (many of us really do think of it as “Paradise”) but also for its’ rich culture and history. So we decided to spotlight many of the little known “treasures” that are here. Not just the sunken ships but the treasures that are on land in plain sight and undiscovered by most visitors and even most of the residents.
When rivers meander and are sometimes cut off from their course, they form an oxbow lake which is so named because of the distinctive "U" shape.
An oxbow is a U-shaped metal frame that fits under and around the neck of an ox or bullock, with its upper ends passing through the bar of the yoke and held in place with a metal key. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxbow
The Oxbow Eco-Center, surrounding the Oxbow of the St Lucie River, comprises 225 pristine acres of preserve on the North Fork of the St. Lucie River. One of the most diverse rivers in the state of Florida, there are more species of fish in the St Lucie River than are found in any other river in Florida.
An Environmental Learning Center, the Oxbow Eco-Center is a trip through time. It’s basically what the Treasure Coast looked like before settlers arrived. It seemed strange to find this preserve right in the middle of such a busy area.
The entrance, on St. James Drive (A.K.A. 25th Street), contradicts the wildness that lies just beyond the Visitors Center. A short hike brings you right into the thick of the floodplain forest. The brochure describes it as “the real Florida” where you can discover the mysterious and hidden life of the forest and river. A living laboratory.
Endangered species preserved at the Oxbow Eco-Center
Where the wild things live.
Along with our beloved Manatees, the Florida Scrub-Jay, Green Sea Turtle, Leatherback Sea Turtle, Gopher Tortoise, Feral Hogs and Lakela's Mint are just a few of the fauna and flora listed on the Federal Register of Endangered Species. So the Oxbow Eco-Center doesn’t just preserve our past it’s also preserving our future.
There are seven trails winding through the sanctuary. We started on the Blue Heron trail and then diverted to the Scrub Jay trail which took us along the riverbank. It’s at this junction that you begin to notice the diversity of the landscape. The Blue Heron Trail was flat and open but when we got close to the rivers edge the topography changed dramatically. We now were traveling under a canopy of large trees and the path itself became a bit more challenging as it hugged the shoreline. This path took us to the canoe dock where the canal meets the river at the Oxbow. We really enjoyed this hike and the fabulous views of the river. This particular trail took us far enough into the preserve to shut out the road noises from 25th Street. We also noticed a kayak crossing the river and thought it would be a great experience for a future visit. We do plan to return. There is so much more to see than we were able to experience in one day!
There are trail maps and brochures available at the visitor’s center. Once inside, you might want to visit the children’s discovery room and meet some of the “pet turtles” in their individual aquariums. The main room has a multi-media display where you can hear and see a presentation about the entire course of the St. Lucie River. Don’t miss the interesting and intricate diorama that spotlights the fish and animals you might see while traveling the trails. You can even enjoy a quiet picnic on the patio behind the center and enjoy some quite time with nature.
If you like hiking, bird watching, paddling a canoe or kayak, or just about any other outdoor activity the Oxbow Eco-Center has it all! Please visit and support this irreplaceable treasure. Let’s keep it alive for future generations.
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