Barr Hammock Levy Prairie Reserve Grand Opening

The Grand Opening of the Barr Hammock Levy Prairie Preserve was a Grand Success! It was a gorgeous day and over 150 people attended the event on Saturday. Thank you to Ramesh Buch, Kelly McPherson and Sandra Vardaman of the Alachua County Forever program for all of their hard work in preparing for the opening of the preserve.

 Cutting the Ribbon! Chris Bird, Alachua County Environmental Protection Director; Alachua Co. Commissioner Robert Hutchinson; Alachua Co. Commission Chair Mike Byerly; Alachua Co. Forever Program Manager Ramesh Buch; Alachua Co. Commissioner Lee Pinkoson, NRCS representative, and Interim Alachua Co. Manager Rick Drummond. Photo by Mark Sexton.

Cutting the Ribbon! Chris Bird, Alachua County Environmental Protection Director; Alachua Co. Commissioner Robert Hutchinson; Alachua Co. Commission Chair Mike Byerly; Alachua Co. Forever Program Manager Ramesh Buch; Alachua Co. Commissioner Lee Pinkoson, NRCS representative, and Interim Alachua Co. Manager Rick Drummond. Photo by Mark Sexton.

Overall, there are 5,719 acres to the preserve, making it the largest of the county’s conservation acquisitions. The majority of its landscape is marsh and wet prairie that is hydrologically tied to Paynes Prairie; all part of a larger greenway system that connects conservation areas together throughout Florida. The Barr Hammock Levy Prairie Preserve is part of the greenway that connects the Ocala National Forest to the Goethe State Forest. The Conservation Trust was a partner in the grant applications and has agreed to assist Alachua County with field trips and educational programs at the Preserve.Attendees at the Grand Opening learned all about the preserve at information exhibits and then went off on foot, bicycle, or on a hayride to see the lands and their flora and fauna firsthand.

Terri Mashour,  Gator Glob Nature Contributor, shared highlights from the event on-line: “The comissioners described the property and it’s karst characteristics, very thin limestone that allows rain water to seep directly into the Floridan Aquifer, our drinking water. They explained the greenway connection that Barr Hammock Preserve fills in, allowing linkages for our Florida black bears (YES! There are black bears in our county!), our deer, our birds to move about the area without being blocked by development. They explained the importance of the partnerships that gathered to find funding to purchase this great expanse of open space, in a time when funding for purchasing conservation lands is scarce.”Terri also operates Gainesville Ecotours, which hosted a hike during the event. Gainesville Ecotours will be working with CTF to bring 12 hikes to the public in the coming year. Thanks to Terri for sharing the photos from the event.

The grand opening was covered by TV 20. Watch the news clip here:
http://www.wcjb.com/local-news/2013/02/huge-addition-alachua-countys-public-lands-levy-prairie

The Gainesville Sun also covered the event too:
http://www.gainesville.com/article/20130131/ARTICLES/130139892
http://www.gainesville.com/article/20130202/ARTICLES/130209935

Conservation Florida