Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ulumay Wildlife Sanctuary Field Trip

First, a bit of history. Ulumay Park Wildlife Sanctuary on Merritt Island was home to Ais Indians four centuries ago. The land was designated a Brevard County Park in 1970. In 1993, the Brevard County Historical Commission dedicated the Ulumay Wildlife Sanctuary as a historical landmark. In July 2008, the Environmentally Endangered Lands Program purchased property adjoining the park, and about a year ago, Friends of Ulumay organized to preserve and enhance the natural resources of the Ulumay Wildlife Sanctuary. What a role model of collaborative effort for the common good!

On December 17, 2008, The State Bureau of Historic Preservation, working with the Brevard County Historical Commission Manager Stephen R. Benn and Friends of Ulumay Vice-President Jack Lembeck, announced the designation of the Ulumay Wildlife Sanctuary as a Florida Heritage Landmark. The Landmark marker will be dedicated at the Ulumay entrance on Saturday, March 21st, 2009 at 11:00 A.M.

Enough history. It was a beautiful Florida day, and my guides on this field trip were Vince Lamb and the aforementioned Jack Lembeck, both core members of Friends of Ulumay, and Charlie Corbeil, whose photos you often see in Beach Buzz blog posts.
See Just the Facts below on how to get to Ulumay. In this photo, Vince, Charlie, and Jack are standing by the gate you'll see shortly after you turn in. This is the entrance to the trails. Once you are inside, turn to the left for a four-mile trail or to the right for a two-mile trail. (The trails are not a loop, so when you get to the end of one of the trails, turn around and come back to the entrance.) You can ride your bicycle or just hoof it. Since the Sanctuary is located on Sykes Creek, if you are a kayaker, this is a wonderful destination.
Midway through the four-mile trail is a rustic viewing tower. The great blue heron on the top rail is optional! You'll see a variety of birds, but my favorite "find" was a black racer snake sunning himself.
This 1,200 acre Sanctuary is in the middle of Merritt Island housing developments, but once you get into it, it's as quiet and remote as any wilderness. It is a great place to go to "get away from it all" without having to travel far, buy a ticket, or stand in line. There are no bathroom facilities, and you'll want to take water and wear a hat. Jack and Vince tell me the mosquitoes are fierce there in the summer, in spite of mosquito control efforts. (This IS Florida, and the Sanctuary is bordered by water.)
Please take the time to look at the Friends of Ulumay web site that Vince has developed, and if you're local, consider getting involved with the organization. These folks are certainly on my list of Conservation Heroes!
"BIG PICTURE" LOCATION: Central Brevard, Island, Merritt Island
WHEN TO GO: 7 a.m. until dark, 7 days a week. Fall and winter are most comfortable times to go.
HOW TO GET THERE: Turn north onto Sykes Creek Parkway at the Steak and Shake across from Merritt Square Mile. Travel one mile until you see a row of these road signs. Turn in.
WHERE TO PARK: Park along the dirt road.
WHAT TO WEAR: You'll be walking along sandy paths, so wear comfortable shoes and long pants. Remember sunscreen, water, and mosquito repellant unless it is cool and breezy.
PHYSICAL CONSTRAINTS: The trail to the left is mostly soft sand. The trail to the right is a little firmer, but I would not want to call it wheelchair accessible. There is currently no place to sit, and there are no bathroom facilities.
HOW LONG TO STAY: How long you stay depends on how far you want to hike or bike or kayak.
WHAT TO DO: Hike or bike the four-mile path or the two-mile path, or kayak in Sykes Creek.
BRING MONEY? No, this is free!
WHERE TO EAT AFTERWARDS: There are numerous places to eat around Merritt Square Mall, or you can ease on up to Cocoa Village by heading west on the 520. map
HOW TO HELP? Don't litter. Don't harrass the birds or critters. If you are local or a visitor, consider attending a Friends of Ulumay meeting and getting involved with the organization. They have some wonderful ideas for this Sanctuary and could certainly use your help.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.