Friday, January 16, 2015
Hickey's Creek Mitigation Park
Inquiring minds may wonder what a mitigation park is. A sign at this park answered that question. Environmental mitigation is "an attempt to offset the detrimental impacts of development on a certain species or a type of native plant community". Hickey Creek Park was originally established by the Florida Wildlife Commission to mitigate for gopher tortoises who have lost a lot of their habitat due to development in southwestern Florida. However, from what we saw while wandering on the trails of this park, feral hogs seem to have taken over this land. Not sure how the tortoises appreciate that!. While hiking many parks and preserves in this area we have seen how they churn up the soil while rooting for food. They eat everything from plants, tubers, snails, and fruits to carrion.
You may notice a white area on the tree, below the fern. That is lichen which is formed when algae and fungus take a liking to each other (a joke we once heard from a park ranger). We learned from Russ our guide last week that white lichen is healthy- any other color indicates pollutants in the environment as sulfur dioxide or heavy metals. We did not see any wildlife during our time in this park, however many birds were flitting about, some of which were robins. That was a surprise to me as I did not realize they came this far south during the winter.