As many of you know, Matt "Twig" Largess just returned from a four-month tree consulting trip in Florida. On the rare occasion he had some downtime, he explored Florida's wilderness areas. He took airboat rides in the Everglades, hiked through old-growth cypress swamps, communed with wildlife (including alligators!), and discovered that there are more preserved wild areas in Florida than he had imagined.
One of the preserves Twig stopped by was the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. This is the largest preserved park in Florida, and is home to the nation's largest native orchid population. While he was there, he met with Park Biologist Mike Owen. Mike has been observing and preserving the park for over 24 years.
Fakahatchee has an incredible amount of other native biodiversity including Florida panthers, white-tailed deer, black bears, Eastern indigo snakes, diamondback terrapins, the threatened Everglades mink, and flocks of resident and migratory birds.
It's also an incredibly rare forest ecosystem. This is the only place in the world where you'll find bald cypress trees sharing the canopy with royal palm trees.