Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Big Cypress National Preserve - Florida, USA

Big Cypress National Preserve is located in Southwest Florida.  The preserve houses some of the most diverse land in the region, it is made up of 729,000 acres of freshwater swamp ecosystem.  All plants and animals residing/growing in the area are protected from unauthorized collection. The preserve was officially named/organized in 1974 by President Gerald Ford, to protect the wildlife, the water quality, natural resources and the ecological integrity if the area.  This preserve helps to support the health of the neighboring everglades and marine estuaries along the Florida coast.
Contrary to it's name, there are very few "Big Cypress" growing in the preserve, the name actually references the "big expanse" equaling hundreds of thousands of acres of cypress forest growing within the preserve.  The preserve is a mixture of both temperate and tropical regions-each having it's own "residents".  The preserve is home to many unique species of plants that remain protected by the natural habitat and stable ecosystem, such as the Red Mangrove, The Cardinal Airplant, The Ghost Orchid, and of course the Cypress for which it was named.  There are also a very diverse group of animals (from feathered, to furry, to scaled) that call this area home.  They include, The Mosquito Fish (I wish they lived here), Wood Storks, Anhingas, Egrets, Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills, Bobcats, Black Bears, Florida Panthers (highly endandgered), River Otters, Big Cypress Fox Squirrels, Florida Manatees, Pythons, Water Mocassin, and the American Alligator.
The park offers guided tours from November - April, however you can plan an adventure on your own anytime.  There are many self guided viewpoints, designated boardwalks/hiking areas and even scenic drive routes available year round. Due to it's very remote areas and sheer size the preserve does have limited cell phone reception so be sure to plan ahead!  Currently there is no fee for entry, however there is a fee for off road vehicles, backwoods permits, research permits and some camping areas
Image Citations (All Photos): Tony Pernas, USDI National Park Service, Bugwood.org - Node Affiliation: Bugwood - UGA

http://www.nps.gov/bicy/index.htm  : Big Cypress National Preserve

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Lone Cypress - Pebble Beach Golf Course - California

The Lone Cypress - A Monterey Cypress is often said to be the most photographed tree in The United States. Estimated to be over 250 Years old the tree is located within the grounds of The Pebble Beach Resort in California - Arguably one of the most expensive and beautiful Golf Courses in the US. The tree has been injured over the years by fire, winds and storms but remains held in place by an intricate system of support cables.  The Monterey Cypress only grows naturally in a two areas of Monterey County, Del Monte Forest and Point Lobos Natural Reserve-but is planted widely as an ornamental.

Image Citation: "Lone Cypress" by Sharashish - Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia -https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lone_Cypress.jpg#/media/File:Lone_Cypress.jpg

You do have to pay to see The Lone Cypress in person by entering the scenic "17 mile drive", but don't worry it is just $10 a car!  This 17 mile scenic route includes some of the most beautiful coastline in California and runs between the Pebble Beach Golf Links and Cypress Point Golf Course through the gated community of Pebble Beach.  Also along this scenic route is Bird Rock, Spanish Bay, Spy Glass Hill, Point Joe and the 5300 acre Del Monte Forest.  
Image Citation : Pebble Beach Golf Course-Public-Wikipedia Page 

This tree is so famous it has been featured in The LA Times - Postcards from the west series- http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-postcards-lone-cypress-20130519-dto-htmlstory.html

This link will take you to an interactive map of "17 Mile Drive"