District expands recreational opportunities in Marion County

MAITLAND, Fla., March 14, 2016 — The St. Johns River Water Management District recently expanded the recreational opportunities available to visitors at the Sunnyhill Restoration Area in Marion County. Located south of County Road (CR) 42, the newly opened South Tract Trail sits on 3,401 acres and is home to seven miles of new hiking and biking trail, as well as additional parking.

“As we strive to protect and improve Florida’s natural systems, we also want to ensure the public has the chance to explore and connect with these unique lands,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “We are grateful for the opportunity to expand the environmental education and recreational opportunities in Marion County.”

The land was originally protected through a conservation easement purchased by the district in 2004. Conservation easements provide a perpetual, undivided interest in property designed to conserve open space, water recharge areas, environmentally sensitive lands, wildlife habitat or historic features on a specific parcel of land, while keeping the land in private ownership and management. This specific easement included a life estate clause, transferring ownership of the parcel to the district.

Visitors to the new trail have the chance to traverse active cattle pastures and other landscapes that are home to a variety of birds and wildlife.

To ensure comfort and safety, all visitors to district-owned land are reminded to bring insect repellent, drinking water,sunscreen and to wear proper clothing.

More information about the Sunnyhill Restoration Area is available online at www.sjrwmd.com/recreation.