Welcome to this week’s “Wednesday Workshop” where we explore one of the defining elements of Groveland’s natural charm – the Palatlakaha River and Wetland System.
One of the dominant landscape features in Groveland is the wetland system associated with the Palatlakaha River. The section of wetlands in Groveland is a large, contiguous system that represents a diverse array of wetland associations. It includes every freshwater wetland category mapped by the St. Johns Watershed Management District. This diversity lends itself to interpretive nature walks that could be part of the city-wide parks and trails network.
Boardwalks could provide access to many of the wetland systems, but the Palatlakaha River itself provides an opportunity to access the rich diversity as well. It offers access to a full transect of wetland types as well as connecting the pristine chain of lakes in Groveland. Through Groveland most segments have been channelized, but some segments retain their sinuous natural alignment. Some of these could be restored to their former alignments providing more edge environments and an enhanced recreational experience.
The Palatlakaha River originates at Lake Louisa, south of Groveland, and flows north to Lake Harris. North of Lake Harris it becomes the Ocklawaha River which flows to the St. Johns River entering the Atlantic at Jacksonville.
The segments in and around Groveland are largely navigable by small craft, such as canoes, kayaks or paddle boards. The Planning Division recently began navigating the waterway to experience firsthand the amazing beauty along the river and to analyze opportunities and constraints to implementation of a more formal blueway route. This remarkable recreational resource is not widely known but could be promoted with a simple map and brochure identifying points of access, interpretive information on habitat types and potential obstacles along the route.
One opportunity Groveland could focus on is acquiring access points that would allow recreational use for varying distances along the river. These could be natural parks with minimal infrastructure requirements beyond parking, canopy shade trees and, perhaps, picnic tables.
Happy 4th of July Groveland – stay tuned to this space for another report next Wednesday!