Enhanced levee maintenance project turns into an amenity at Lake Apopka

Construction of osprey platform and picnic parking area

Installation of an osprey platform and (right) new shaded picnic area and parking area.

Visitors to the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive (LAWD) this weekend will see their donations at work. What started as a levee maintenance project was enhanced to include amenities for visitors to enjoy, built with outside dining and wildlife viewing opportunities in mind.

District operations and maintenance staff have constructed a new picnic area located at the intersection of McDonald Canal and Laughlin roads, where the levee was eroding due to vehicles parking along it to access nearby facilities. By installing a limerock parking area at the site, staff anticipate less erosion. Improvements, funded in part through $1,200 in visitor donations, include:

  • Picnic area covered with shade cloth
  • Two tables made with recycled plastic (to be installed next week)
  • Parking area with five spots, including handicapped parking
  • Relocated bird-identification kiosk with easy access from the picnic area
  • Area grading to prevent water buildup and erosion
  • Osprey platform
  • Raptor perch

Nearly 200,000 people visit LAWD each year and it is by far the District’s most visited conservation property.

As with all District properties, admission to the Lake Apopka North Shore’s wildlife drive and trails is free of charge. However, since November 2020, visitors have the option to donate through online credit or debit card donations to assist with expenses for sanitation, security, maintenance of levees, roads and trails, as well as improvements, brochures, maps and other educational materials. The link to donate is www.sjrwmd.com/LAWD-donate.

The wildlife drive is a one-way, 11-mile drive meandering through the eastern portion of the property, beginning at Lust Road in Apopka. Also, the Lake Apopka Loop Trail is available for non-motorized visitors and follows the lake’s edge through the property, covering more than 20 miles and providing hiking and biking opportunities.

Visit www.sjrwmd.com/lands/recreation/lake-apopka for more information about the recreational opportunities that await at the LANS.

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