St. Lucie County’s Environmental Resources Department’s award-winning guided nature program series returns this month with socially distanced in-person programs offered on weekdays, weekends and some evenings. This program is a fun and safe way to explore the local nature preserves. Each program presents a plethora of topics including native animals and plants, local history, stand-up paddleboarding, treasure hunting, the health benefits of nature and how to “Leave No Trace,” all while enjoying the great outdoors.
Topics for the January hikes include:
- Saturday, January 9, 2021 from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM - Leave Only Paw Prints Hike at D.J. Wilcox Preserve, 300 Michigan St., Fort Pierce. Do you like to enjoy nature with your furry friend? We will discuss how to safely and responsibly explore our beautiful public lands with our canine companions during this leisurely hike. Be ready to learn to “Leave No Trace” tips and tricks focused on pets on the trail. To help our canine preserve pet assistant Zion concentrate on his job, we ask that participants refrain from bringing their pets during this pro-gram. Use these tips to go on a future adventure with your pup.
- Sunday, January 10th from 9:30 AM to noon - Intro to Stand-Up Paddle Boarding at Richard E. Becker Preserve, 3398 Selvitz Road, Fort Pierce. Start your new year learning a new skill and hobby. Our expert guide will walk you through the steps to learn how to stand-up paddleboard. No experience necessary. Appropriate for ages 14 and older. Stand-up paddleboards, U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices and paddles provided (you may also bring your own equipment if desired). The cost is $15 per person, please call 772-462-2536 to reserve your space. RSVP a must. No online registration.
- Monday, January 11th from 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM - Coastlines & Coral Reefs at Ocean Bay Beachside, 7600 S Ocean Drive, Jensen Beach. Florida has more than 1,300 miles of coastline, more than any other state in the continental United States. Enjoy a leisurely walk through the dune and maritime hammock habitats and learn about the importance of these environments. Once on the beach, we’ll discuss items you find in the algae wrack line and investigate coral reefs in depth. This program is perfect for beach goers who have always been curious about their favorite recreation spot.
- Friday, January 15th from 6:30 AM to 8:00 AM - Sunrise Sensory Hike at Indrio Savannahs Preserve, 5275 Tozour Road, Fort Pierce. Immerse yourself in nature as we enjoy a quiet and relaxing morning hike through varied landscapes. Listen closely as nearby wildlife begins to stir, signaling the start of their day. Don’t forget to take a deep breath and soak in the warmth of the sunrise. At the end of this 1-2 mile leisurely hike, we will discuss the sounds that we heard and the wild-life that we may have spotted along the way.
- Saturday, January 16 from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM - Intro to Geocaching Family Hike at Oxbow Eco-Center Preserve, 5400 NE St. James Drive, Port St. Lucie. Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game that blends technology and nature. You will learn the basics of this family fun activity while exploring the Oxbow’s beautiful pine flatwoods. Appropriate for ages 10 and older. An adult must accompany all minors.
- Saturday, January 16th from 6:30 AM to 8:30 PM - Ultraviolet Adventure Night Hike at Spruce Bluff Preserve, 611 Dar Ln., Port St. Lucie. Plants and small animals reveal unusual ambiance at night, reflecting new colors under black light. Light wavelengths or their absence help plants and animals “change clothes” from day and night in the ultraviolet.
- Sunday, January 17th from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM - Florida’s Coastal Gems Hike at Donald B. Moore Heritage Preserve, 305 Torpey Road, Fort Pierce. Discover this beautiful coastal hammock trail while learning about the preserve’s history and the importance of this coastal ecosystem as you meander your way to the picturesque lagoon. We’ll discuss the lagoon’s aquatic preserves, the spoil islands and the challenging balance between recreation and protection of this vital resource.
- Wednesday, January 20th from 4:30 AM to 6:00 PM - Intro to Nature Healing Hike at D.J. Wilcox Preserve, 300 Michigan Street, Fort Pierce. Is there a benefit to spending time in nature? Doctors seem to think so. Come along as we explore the world of nature healing and enjoy a leisurely hike through our very own local preserve. Along the way, participate in discussions about the need for natural spaces and practice a few unique ways to dive deeper into these outdoor settings.
- Saturday, January 23rd from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM - Plants Behaving Badly Hike at Ancient Oaks Preserve, 4650 Oleander Ave., Fort Pierce. Are “non-native” and “exotic” the same term? What makes an organism “invasive?” Are there other categories? Florida’s habitats now have more mixtures of native plants and other species we commonly seen. Expect some surprise discoveries.
- Wednesday, January 26th from 6:30 AM to 8:00 PM - Headlamp Night Hike at Indrio Savannahs Preserve, 5275 Tozour Road, Fort Pierce. Interested in experiencing your favorite trails after dark? Night hiking is an entirely different experience that stimulates your nocturnal senses. Using a headlamp, we will enjoy a hike through the forests and waterways that come alive at night. Along the way, we’ll discuss different nocturnal adaptations that animals have to survive and thrive in the dark.
- Friday, January 29th from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM - Full Moon Scrubby-scape Hike at Walton Scrub Preserve, 10809 S Indian River Drive, Fort Pierce. Nighttime, quiet time. This scrubby-scape of whispering pines, bushy scrub-oaks, stars above and the gentle intracoastal breeze is ideal for creating a perfect nocturnal experience. Bring your curiosity for this upland adventure under the full moon while being serenaded by the nighttime sounds of critters and wind in the air.
Programs are usually limited to eight people helping to allow participants to immerse themselves into the county’s beautiful natural areas. Based on current best practices, and because we cannot guarantee safe social distancing at all times during our hikes or paddles, masks must be worn to participate in one of St. Lucie County Environmental Resources Department’s Guided Nature Programs.
Programs target ages 12 and older unless otherwise noted. All minors must be ac-companied by an adult. Proper footwear and water are required for all programs and please leave pets at home.
Purchased through a voter-approved bond referendum, St. Lucie County manages more than two dozen preserves that are open to the public for passive recreation. For more information about St. Lucie County’s Environmentally Significant Lands visit: www.stluciepreserves.com.