The Naples Preserve
In Florida, United States
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In celebration of Earthday, April 22, 2008, welcome to The Naples Preserve, a unique ‘green space’ located in the heart of Naples! This is the City of Naples only nature preserve. Admission is free and the Preserve is available during daylight hours seven days a week.
This beautiful nine and a half acre scrub oak community was saved from development by the citizens of Naples. The Preserve’s purchase was financed by a $9 million bond referendum passed in February 2000. Hundreds of volunteer hours were spent removing exotic, non-native growth and trash that had accumulated over the years. This restoration to native flora and fauna are important in that we have a chance to see Florida in a truly historic sense. We are now able to view a near-pristine example of scrub community, and of pine flatwoods upland forest that covered most of the Naples area before it was developed. And all right here within city limits!
And now for a brief geologic history of Florida. Florida started out as part of Africa, back when Africa was part of Gondwana - a continent that shifted and broke up into Africa and South America during the Paleozoic era (600 to 230 million years ago). Geologists have found similar sets of fossils and similar rock layers deep underneath both Florida and West Africa. They have found evidence that basement rocks in Florida and in West Africa were affected by the same major geological event about 550 million years ago. These basement rocks are now called the Florida Block, and they are the deepest parts of what we call Florida. The Florida Block parted company from Africa's ancestor mega-continent, Pangaea, during the Triassic period (181 to 230 million years ago). Gradually, the Florida Block moved north across the Equator until it butted up against the southeastern tip of North America, where it has stayed ever since.
The Florida Platform supports Florida as we know it. Its boundaries are the edges of the modern continental shelf. The Florida Platform is about 300 miles wide and 450 miles long and is constructed mostly of the bodies of miniscule marine creatures. For millions and millions and more millions of years, as untold numbers of these creatures died, their remains -- primarily carbon (in the form of carbonate) -- sank to the sea floor and eventually were compressed into rock by the great weight of more zillions of their descendants as they, in turn, fell to the bottom of the sea creating the Florida Platform -- a 135,000-square-mile pedestal that dips down as far as 3,000 feet below sea level. Right now, there's more of the Florida Platform under water than above it, which is why waters off most of Florida's shore are shallow for a long way out from land. At today's sea level, about half the platform is submerged.
In the couple hundred million years since Florida merged with North America, sea levels have risen and fallen, risen and fallen, over and over, each time changing the shape and nature of Florida. When sea levels were low, the exposed sea floor became land, and some of the surface was dissolved by rain or carried off by streams. When sea levels covered the land again, new layers of sediments accumulated. And so the cycle went on for tens of millions of years.
Numerous advances and retreats of the sea have occurred since Florida's emergence. In the shallow seas of the late Pleistocene era (ending about 10,000 years ago) Florida was twice it's present size. the shoreline was as much as 85 miles beyond the coastline that we know today. Florida was by then covered with pine forests, interspersed with stands of oak, hickory and isolated prairies...which bring us to why the Naples Preserve is so important. The Preserve contains a wide variety of plants and wildlife associated with one of the oldest ecological communities in Florida established in this Pleistocene era about 10,000 years ago on sand ridges which were deposited originally as coastal dunes. Again, a truly historic view of Florida!
A very exciting thing is that the Preserve is now an official refuge for the endangered burrowing land turtle, the Gopher Tortoise! There is now a two foot fence (extending one foot underground) in place and nine or ten tortoises are being relocated here from east Naples due to impending development at their current burrowing site.
Upon arrival at the preserve, please visit the Hodges Family ECO Center if it is open. This very unique structure houses interactive displays, exhibits and educational maps. The center is staffed by friendly volunteers who are passionate about the Preserve and will be glad to answer any questions you may have. They know about this Earthcache and will be happy to see you!
An elevated boardwalk will enable you to take a .4 mile self-guided tour. Pick up a brochure at the trailhead chickee and follow along with it as you walk. The boardwalk has numbered stops along the way with associated explanations of what you will see. Note: The eco-center need not be open for you to complete the requirements of this Earthcache...but you will need one of the provided brochures to guide your walk. In the event that the brochure rack under the chickee is empty, I have stashed a few of them in the 'Walk the Plank' cache (GC19ZQA) that is also in this Preserve. (Please let me know if I need to stash a few more...or feel free to place a few in the cache yourself if you happen to be in the Preserve. And thank you in advance!)
To receive credit for this earth cache, you must e-mail the owner (Lorriebird) answers to the following questions:
1. Stop #1: What two types of oaks are found in the preserve?
2. Stop #2: The Preserve offers a glimpse of the likely topography at the end of the Pleistocene era ending around 10,000 years ago. What percentage of Florida was covered by Pine-Flatwoods during that time?
3. Stop #4: How many types of Tillandsia are found within the preserve?
4. Stop #5: Why is the Gopher Tortoise considered a 'keystone' species?
5. Stop #7: What is the cause of the 'ecotone' where the oak scrub transitions to the slash pine flatwoods?
6. Post a picture of you or your group in a recognizable spot in the Preserve.
Please send your answers BEFORE you log this Earthcache, then feel free to log the cache. You do not need to wait for a response from me before you log. If I do not receive your answers at the time the cache is logged, I will delete the find as per Earthcache logging guidelines.
I hope you enjoy your visit to the Naples Preserve. We are so very fortunate to have this resource available to us seven days a week, even when the ECO center is not open. Many, many thanks to the Community Service Advisory Board for the City of Naples for allowing me to develop this Earth Cache, and for allowing me to use the Preserve publications to gather information for this cache. I would also like to give credit to the ARROW website for their research information at http://www.fnai.org/ARROW/almanac/geology/geology_history.cfm. Please help me show thanks to the Preserve by continuing to cache responsibly!
Note: You may wish to visit the other two caches in the Preserve: Son of Ape GCZA0R, and Walk the Plank GC19ZQA. Also, check out the way cool Earthcache Masters Program at this website! http://www.earthcache.org/
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Last Updated: on 4/14/2014 8:18:31 PM Pacific Daylight Time (3:18 AM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum