One year later, Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive thrives

MAITLAND, Fla., April 28, 2016 — One year after the St. Johns River Water Management District opened the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, about 50,000 visitors have experienced the one-way, 11-mile drive that traverses a network of wetlands, levees and canals, providing a variety of wildlife viewing opportunities.

“Like all district-owned properties, the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive was designed for recreational use that is also compatible with conservation,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “We’re proud of the drive’s success and know it will continue to be an incredible educational opportunity for residents and visitors alike.”

To commemorate the drive’s anniversary, volunteers with the Orange Audubon Society will be stationed along the drive on May 1 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a scope, bird books and loaner binoculars to assist visitors with identifying wildlife. Several vehicle pullovers on the drive provide opportunities for stopping at preferred sites. Visitors to the area can also hike or bicycle the 18-mile Lake Apopka Loop Trail, further exploring the area’s natural systems and learning about water resource protection and conservation.

Housed within the district’s 20,000-acre Lake Apopka North Shore restoration area, the wildlife drive opened in May 2015. Its success is attributed to not only housing a diverse bird population but also providing unprecedented access to the unique area. Home to 362 species of birds, including Bald Eagle, Great Blue Heron and Swallow-tailed Kite, visitors to the wildlife drive should also watch for alligators, turtles, otters, raccoon, snakes, coyotes and bobcats.

Once farmed land, the area was acquired by the district between 1988 and 2001 with the goal of reducing discharges of excessive nutrients to the lake while at the same time providing critical wetland functions and recreational opportunities. This multi-benefit restoration approach on the North Shore relies upon the district’s expertise in science, engineering, construction and wildlife management.

The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is open year-round between sunrise and sunset on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and federal holidays. There is no cost to visit the wildlife drive.

More information about recreational opportunities on lands owned and managed by the district are available at