“Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert
At the start of the year, the United Nations declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. “Travel. Enjoy. Respect.” promotes responsible travel.
When visiting natural spaces, we can all leave them unharmed or better with some simple measures.
Recycling, using your own water bottle, picking up litter and being respectful of wildlife are just a few examples.
It may take a little adjustment, but these habits practiced many times over can have a powerful effect on natural areas. Being a friend to nature is for all who love to travel, value a destination and treasure authentic experiences.
Photo: Courtesy of Hernando County Environmentally Sensitive Lands
Here are some tips to be a ‘Friend to Nature’ here on Florida’s Adventure Coast. After all, this is Nature’s Place to Play!Respect Wildlife – Bring your binoculars and camera to observe wildlife at a distance. Avoid touching or feeding resident wildlife, no matter how cute!
Photo: Baby Manatee Courtesy of SUPWeeki
Florida’s Adventure Coast is alive with creatures great and small. In our parks and preserves, you're likely to spot deer, gopher tortoises and a broad array of birds.
On our waterways, you'll likely see plenty of shore birds and waterfowl, as well as turtles, manatees and dolphin.
Many manatees enjoy our coastal areas and springs, particularly in winter. So always take care to slow down when boating; often the well-camouflaged manatees are just below the waters’ surface.
Wherever you discover wildlife, it’s always important to observe without disturbing any natural activity.
Bring your camera to share your sightings! You’re going to have a long list of wild creatures to see and photograph here in Nature’s Place to Play.
Escape the crowds and celebrate the outdoors each and every day. With over 107,000 acres of parks and preserves, you have abundant wild lands to explore on Florida’s Adventure Coast.
Chinsegut Conservation Center
Be a friend to, and help protect, these habitats while exploring by:
- Staying on marked trails
- Packing well to avoid littering; also referred to as 'pack it in; pack it out’
- Collecting any trash you may find along the way
These actions will help ensure that our forests remain pristine and that your next visit will be as amazing as your first.
Photo: Courtesy of Weeki Wachee Springs
Save the Mermaids
…by saving the waters they swim in! With multiple spring-fed rivers leading to the Gulf of Mexico, such as the beautiful Weeki Wachee River, adventures on the water are endless: go kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, boating and fishing. You can even explore the thriving habitat of an artificial reef by scuba diving.
Bayport - Linda Pedersen Paddling Trail
The newly marked Bayport - Linda Pedersen Paddling Trail is a must for paddling enthusiasts, and monthly Weeki Wachee River cleanups are a great way to enjoy that waterway while keeping it litter-free.
For water activities, here are a few simple ways to be a friend to nature:
- Keep all belongings with you; leave nothing behind
- Avoid feeding or approaching wildlife
- Bring a trash-bag in case you spot litter
- When boating on the Gulf of Mexico, take care to protect sea grass
- Consider being an angler that practices CPR (Catch, Photograph and Release)
- Join a Weeki Wachee River Clean up: always on the 3rd Wednesday of the month, these guided kayaking trips meet at 8:00am (or before) at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. Contact Boating in Florida to reserve ahead.
Photo: Boating in Florida River Clean Up
Give Back with Voluntourism
Would you like to do something more to make a positive impact during your visit? Florida’s Adventure Coast has several organizations doing great things for nature and wildlife; get involved and meet new friends while supporting the wild places you love.
Check out the following preserves and natural areas for hiking and inquire about opportunities to volunteer:
- Chinsegut Conservation Center 352-754-6722
- Environmentally Sensitive Lands of Hernando County 352-754-4057
- The Weekiwachee Preserve 352-796-7211
- Friends of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park 352-592-5656
- Withlacoochee State Forest 352-797-4140
Photo: Hernando County Environmentally Sensitive Lands
And check out Nature with a Side of Nice for inspiration on nature activities and authentic attractions on Florida’s Adventure Coast.