Florida Nature Trackers: A Day of Discovery at L. Kirk Edwards WEA
A Day of Discovery at L. Kirk Edwards Wildlife and Environmental Area
By Ben Rangel
Do you remember the first time you felt amazed by nature? Maybe it was when you found that hidden creek in the woods behind your grandparents’ backyard. Or the time you watched squirrels as they gathered acorns from the oaks lining your city’s sidewalks. Whatever the cause, we all reached a point in our lives when we discovered the world outside, when something just around the bend or underneath a rock made us go, “Wow!”
As we get older, this sense of wonder for the natural world tends to fade. Life gets in the way: we concentrate on school, work and daily life. Fortunately, there are places where we can return to that childhood awe of nature. For visitors and residents of Leon County, one such place is L. Kirk Edwards Wildlife and Environmental Area (WEA), or “L. Kirk” as those of us at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) call it.
On my first visit to L. Kirk, I was amazed that there was conservation land so close to Tallahassee.
As I walked further, I could see that something special was happening to this pasture. Around me the soil had been blackened by a controlled burn, and I could see the whimsical pom-poms of young longleaf pines scattered across the field. The FWC has been hard at work here, restoring this pasture into a longleaf pine forest. It is a process that can take some time but becomes more apparent every time I visit L. Kirk and see those little longleaf pines reaching higher into the sky.
There are signs everywhere on the WEA that the FWC’s controlled burning, planting, and careful land management are working. You’ll see large gopher tortoises lumbering along, munching on healthy wiregrass. Looking closely at a sandy path reveals the tracks of bobcats and white-tailed deer. And the area is a birding hotspot, where you can see everything from bobwhite quail to turkeys to ruby-crowned kinglets.