If the state had wanted to invite a celebrity to open its state forest just 22 miles east of downtown Orlando, they couldn’t have done better.
The brand new 10,945- acre Bronson State Forest in east Seminole and Orange counties was being prepped for its public debut earlier this month. A pair of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission employees were checking the new boundary fence, when they spotted stunning animal tracks.
They instantly knew a very rare member of the animal kingdom — one of the 160 Florida panthers — had visited the park only hours earlier.
This sighting is far north of the panther’s usual range. The Orlando Sentinel tells the complete story of the surprising discovery and confirmation of the panther track.
The new forest was assembled largely with funds from a Florida Forever land-preservation program.
Sadly, the program itself is now an endangered species. Gov. Rick Scott wants to cut it from the state budget.
Nevertheless, the Bronson Forest sounds like a great place to explore, with miles of hiking through a variety of ecosystems.
Tom Choma provides a detailed report on his extensive hiking experiences in the forest on his blog devoted to the Florida outdoors.