Ekker Preserve in Gibsonton, Florida is one of the most recent additions to Florida’s great parks and wildlife sanctuaries. This 85-acre site was once home to a commercial fish farm that abused and used the land to it advantages and to natures disadvantage. It is now receiving the finishing touches to creating a wetlands and uplands nature preserve.
Located in Gibsonton, Florida, southeast of one of Florida’s largest cities, Tampa, this new nature preserve is a boon to the community and to the wildlife. What was once a depleted and treeless series of polluted fish breeding pits is now a home to osprey, heron and many other species of wetland birds.
Since they began work in April 2010, the Ekker Preserve has seen a huge influx of wildlife. From mammals to birds, many of the parks species now have a permanent home. And it’s not just animals either.
Over 85,000 native plants have been added to the park from the smallest of native sedge brush shrubs to the largest-maple trees. Some of these trees are expected to grow over 30 feet tall within the coming years and provide nesting grounds for kestrels, osprey and other large birds of prey. Many nesting shelters have been built onsite already and they are seeing a few nesters already.
Not only is planting native plants a big deal, removing the exotic species are a top priority of conservation officials. Cattail, Dog Fennel and Torpedo Grass are but just a few of the many plants that are being removed by hand, shovel and bulldozer.
Ekker Preserve is owned and operated by the Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation services and jointly maintained by Southwest Florida Water Management District. While no public facilities exist yet, eventually a parking lot and restrooms will be onsite for visitors. So far no price has been set for enjoying Ekker Preserve.
While no public access is available yet on this historic property located on Bullfrog Creek in Gibsonton, Florida it soon will be. But don’t tell the wildlife, they’ve already begun to move in.