An Osprey soars overhead, looking for fish.
This is a restored wetland in the east section of Haney Creek Preserve. (I’m usually in the north section, where there’s a dog park and a nice 1-mile trail through sand scrub and pine flatwoods.)
How did this lovely place come to be? According to this 2017 article “Stuart Completes Wetlands Restoration Project”…
Work on the entire property began in 1999, when the city received grants from Florida Communities Trust to purchase the land. Additional grant money from the St. Lucie River Issues Team and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection augmented the work, which included removal of exotic plants and an engineered wetlands area for natural water filtration.
Yesterday and the day before I visited the newer East Trail, in the section outlined in yellow on the kiosk map at the entrance, off Dixie Highway. (There is no real parking here, but I have been told that the nearby TC3 Church allows use of their large parking lot.)
Here is a LINK to the MAP location.
Haney Creek itself flows south into the St. Lucie River. The restoration of the wetlands, with improved stormwater management, will help protect and improve the health of the estuary. Good job, City of Stuart and Martin County!
It looks like Pond Apple trees were planted at the water’s edge as part of the restoration. It’s a Florida native commonly found in the Everglades. It likes its feet wet, as they say.
As they get bigger, pond apples provide good nesting and roosting places for birds.
Fresh water flows under the bridge and joins brackish water on the west side of the preserve, which eventually flows into the St. Lucie River.
There are mangrove trees growing along the banks of the brackish tidal creek.
Pickerel weed, a native aquatic plant, helps stabilize the banks of the freshwater pond.
This is a Caribbean Scoliid Wasp, identified via iNaturalist. Is it pretty, or creepy? That’s my feeling about many insects.
I think the flower is Marsh Fleabane.
Turkey Vultures flew over while I was there.
I’ve been mostly ignoring vultures because they are so common here in winter, but I decided to immortalize this one.
The large shrubs are Carolina willows growing along the berm that was built up for the pond’s edge. The trail is just grass here, before it gets to boardwalk over a marshy area.
In the shade of the willows, I spotted pretty red flowers on a plant that looks like a member of the hibiscus family.
On the north side of the pond, there is a broad creek that flows into it. It is so peaceful here, even though the preserve is along Dixie Highway and busy Route 1 is not far away.
I found laurel oak growing in cool wet woods. We have laurel oaks in our (dryish) front yard and I think they would be happier here.
You can make the trail a loop if you come back along the sidewalk, just outside the fence. I think this “east area” of Haney Creek will connect to more sections and trails in the future.
I thought I would see more birds… ducks, gallinules, wading birds? But this was a degraded wet area that has only recently been restored so maybe… if you build it they will come?
In the photo above you can barely see two birds that were getting on with typical bird behavior – a couple of male Boat-tailed Grackles were having a singing and perching contest.
“I’m the man!”
“Nope, sorry. I’m on the highest spot and therefore I’M THE MAN.”
Hey birds, maybe it’s this guy who’s the man. Jeffrey Krauskopf served as a city and county commissioner for a total of 30 years. His efforts led to the purchase of the land for this preserve. Save the land, save the river.