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Apopka Environment

Happy Birthday Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

Help celebrate its 7th anniversary Sunday with the Orange Audubon Society

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Celebrating seven years since the St. Johns River Water Management District opened the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive to the public, Orange Audubon Society volunteers will be on the drive on Sunday, May 1st, to share information on how to identify birds along the drive better, how to spot other wildlife safely, and about the lake restoration. Times for the anniversary outreach event will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at three stations along the drive.

The popular 11-mile one-way Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive (LAWD) was carefully designed to provide optimal wildlife viewing opportunities for the recovering wetlands and the lake. LAWD is open on days that District staff and contractors are not carrying out Lake Apopka restoration work — Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and most federal holidays.

Any day of the week, visitors may hike or bicycle the 18-mile Lake Apopka Loop Trail. The LAWD entrance gate opens to vehicles at 7 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m. to allow visitors time to complete the drive and exit the property by 5 p.m. The one-way drive begins at 2850 Lust Road in Apopka and goes onto Jones Avenue in Zellwood. Details for visitors, including an audio tour, can be found on the District’s website. 

Over 172,000 visitors enjoyed exploring and traversing the drive in their vehicles in 2021, more than any other wildlife drive in Florida.

“We’re proud of the drive’s success and the incredible educational opportunity it offers residents and visitors,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Mike Register. “It’s just one of the many benefits of the numerous restoration projects underway to improve Lake Apopka’s water quality and natural systems.”

Cyclists and pedestrians make up thousands of additional visitors.

Any weekend throughout the year, you can see many out-of-state plates on LAWD, and these people buy gas and supplies, eat in restaurants, and stay locally, which brings in ecotourism dollars. Birding and nature photography ecotourism meets the International Ecotourism Society’s definition that OAS promotes: Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.

Come out on the seventh anniversary of this excellent local resource and bring your questions to Orange Audubon volunteers.

Admission is free, and no reservations are necessary.

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