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SCC, Kings Pointers, can get wilderness experience close to home

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image Sun City Center residents celebrate the opening of the new Nature Trail on 37 acres of land owned by the Sun City Center Community association. Photo Penny Fletcher

Citizens wouldn’t think they had to ask the county for permission to access to their own property but Sun City Center residents had to do just that before being allowed to clear their new nature trail.

By PENNY FLETCHER
 
Citizens wouldn’t think they had to ask the county for permission to access to their own property but Sun City Center residents had to do just that before being allowed to clear their new nature trail.

“We had to get permission from the county to get egress across the county’s property onto the site,” explained Howie Griffin, who served as liaison between the Nature Trail Planning Committee and the Sun City Center Community Association board.

“We’ve been talking about having a trail like this for about two years,” said Al Alderman, “but the Task Force that put it together was created in the spring.”

At the trail’s dedication and ribbon cutting across the entrance Oct. 29, Mike Raff expressed thanks to everyone who worked on the project.

Raff and his friends will be major users of the trail. Raff recently started both a hiking club and group called Friends of the Sun City Center Nature Trail that will act as a “Friends of the Park,” monitoring the state of the trail, reporting anything that needs to be fixed or maintained, and helping keep it cleaned up.

The Hiking Club of Sun City Center is a separate group. Both Sun City Center and Kings Point residents may join. “Anyone can enjoy the wilderness right here, close to home,” Raff said. “Hiking allows you to enjoy Florida’s natural beauty, observe wildlife and improve physical fitness. Hiking as a group provides the additional benefits of safety and companionship.” Right now, there are about 40 active members in the new club.

Not all the Hiking Club activities will take place in Sun City Center, but all will be in or around Hillsborough County, he said. Hikes are scheduled for the second and fourth Wednesday of most months.

Sun City Center and Kings Point residents who are not members of the Hiking Club may also enjoy the new trail.

It comprises (nearly) a one-mile stretch of cleared path located on the west side of W. Del Webb Boulevard between Seton Hall and Vincennes avenues. Parking is on the grass for golf carts and cars, away from the street.

“The trail is not for dogs, bikes or golf carts,” said Griffin. “It is for walkers only.”

A circular trail with many inside cross-over trails cut through it was planned by a Task Force which has since disbanded.

Rose Porter, a former journalist who lives across the street from the entrance to the Nature Trail is excited to see it open. She worked on the Task Force and loves “natural Florida landscape.” She has a xeriscaped yard, with all native plants that require little or no watering.

The physical work was performed by Sun City Center’s maintenance staff led by maintenance supervisor Kelly Emerson.

“We had to go in with an excavator and clear palmetto patches,” he said. “It took my crew almost six months.”

The maintenance staff, members of the Community Association board of directors, including President Ed Barnes who cut the ribbon, some of Raff’s “Friends of the Trail” and hikers, and residents who like to look at native flora and fauna were on hand for the  ceremonial ribbon-cutting across the small wooden gate leading to the head of the trail.

Many then took the first official walk together.

For additional information visit the Sun City Center Community Association website www.suncitycenter.org and look under “Outdoor Activities.” For information about the Hiking Club or to help with Friends of the Nature Trail, contact Raff at 813-642-8624 or email him at mraff98@yahoo.com.

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