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The land that is now Wildflower Preserve operated as an 18-hole executive golf course from the early 1970s to 2006. For the next four years, the property sat abandoned and became overgrown with dense vegetation. After attempts to sell the land to developers collapsed, Lemon Bay Conservancy successfully negotiated to purchase the property and closed on the sale in September 2010. To learn more about Wildflower’s history and Lemon Bay Conservancy’s remarkable purchase, click here.
The 80-acre preserve is located on the Cape Haze peninsula in Charlotte County, FL. It is an interesting property because it contains a variety of upland habitats along with several fresh water ponds that feed into salt-water Lemon Creek. As Lemon Creek leaves the property, it connects into Lemon Bay.
Lemon Bay Conservancy’s primary purpose for Wildflower is to protect and enhance the habitats within the preserve in order to provide a refuge for wildlife and opportunities for environmental education and scientific research.
While the preserve had wonderful biological diversity when the Conservancy purchased it, the natural contours of the property had been heavily modified over time. Thanks to a partnership with the Southwest Florida Water Management District and NOAA, in early 2021, we completed a major habitat restoration project to convert the old golf course ponds into a series of interconnected wetlands and to restore the uplands to native habitats. There are expanded freshwater wetlands on the eastern side of the preserve transitioning to tidal wetlands on the western side.
Wildflower is different from other nearby parks and preserves because it is owned by non-profit Lemon Bay Conservancy and is being managed and improved by LBC volunteers and community groups. We receive no county funding. Preserve improvements are funded by LBC members and contributors and by generous grants from our partners in conservation and preservation.
Wildflower Preserve is open to Lemon Bay Conservancy members daily and to the general public as part of regularly scheduled nature tours and events. The preserve is located on the Cape Haze peninsula, at the southeast corner of the Gasparilla Pines Boulevard and Placida Road (Hwy 775) intersection. The parking lot address is 3120 Gasparilla Pines Boulevard, Englewood, FL 34224. Click here for a Google map.
Learn more about our Wildflower Preserve resources and projects below, and come out to visit the preserve soon!
Guided nature walks at the preserve are offered on a regular basis during the winter season along with special-interest walks and open house events. Additional guided walks for groups and individuals can be arranged by calling the LBC office. See our calendar for upcoming walks and events.
We have developed four loop trails at Wildflower that are designed to accommodate visitors with various time limits and interests. Stop at the kiosk by the parking area to pickup a trail map brochure. Or, click here to print a copy of the preserve trail brochure.
Individual volunteers and community organizations have stepped forward to create many additional improvements at the preserve. Click here to see some of the projects and learn how you can help.
In partnership with Florida Fish & Wildlife and the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, a multi-year research study on juvenile tarpon was launched in Sept. 2012 in Lemon Creek. This first-of-its-kind project will provide insights into movement and growth of juvenile tarpon. Click here to learn more.
Many bird and butterfly lovers are expanding their interests to include dragonflies. The ponds, fields, and creek areas of the preserve offer opportunities to view a wide variety of species. We offer special dragonfly walks periodically and a dragonfly brochure is available by clicking here.
Throughout the year, volunteers meet at the preserve to work on invasive plant control, maintenance of the butterfly and birding areas, and other projects. Call the office for current volunteer opportunities and come out to join us! Click here to see a slide show of our volunteers in action.
Dr. Bill Dunson, professor emeritus of biology at Penn. State, writes regularly about Wildflower. Read his Nature Notes here. Other articles about the preserve are also available.