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Collier County

Panther Walk Preserve

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 Panther Walk Preserve Location

 Estates Elementary School representative receiving award for naming preserve

In 2009, the adjacent Estates Elementary School held a preserve naming contest.  The winning name of "Panther Walk Preserve" was chosen by student Jocelyn Rosario and was approved by the County as the official preserve name.  Above, Ms. Rosario receives recognition for the winning name from the Conservation Collier Land Acquisition Advisory Committee.

Address/Location: 2845 60th Ave. NE, across the street and slightly west of the Estates Elementary School (on 60th Ave NE), west of Everglades Blvd., north of Golden Gate Parkway, in the Golden Gate Estates.

Panther Walk Preserve Sign

The roughly half-mile trail winds through a seasonally flooded cypress strand forest.  If you hike it during rainy season, be prepared to get wet!
Panther Walk Preserve aerial 

Manager Contact Information:  Christal Segura
E-mail: ChristalSegura@Colliergov.net
Phone: 239-252-2495

Preserve Size: 10.68 acres

Date Acquired: Acquisition started in June 2007 with two parcels and was completed in 2008 with the remaining parcel.  Two additional parcels were donated in 2014.

Cost of Acquisition:  $93,130

Public Access Status:  This preserve is open to the public year round.  If you go, be prepared with long pants, long-sleeved shirt, hat and sturdy shoes.  Bug spray is a necessity during rainy season.  The primitive trail can be accessed from either 60th Ave NE or 62nd Ave NE and is approximately half a mile in length.   Trails are flagged with orange tape.  Property boundaries are flagged with pink tape. 

Available Printed Materials:  Panther Walk Preserve Final Management Plan

Public Access Facilities:  This preserve has no facilities and only roadside parking, which is best off 62nd Ave NE.  

Plants and Wildlife:  Situated within the Horsepen Strand, a two mile long wetland slough feature within the North Golden Gate Estates, this preserve is a beautiful example of a cypress strand swamp. The Florida natural Areas Inventory and the Florida Department of Natural Resources (1990) classifies strand swamps as imperiled globally and statewide due to rarity or other factors making them vulnerable to extinction.  

 Cypress at Panther Walk Preserve

While the strand forest is dominated by cypress (Taxodium distichum), it also contains a mixture of temperate and tropical tree species including red maple (Ace rubrum), swamp laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), pond apple (Annona glabra), strangler fig (Ficus aurea), swamp bay (Persea palustris), coastal plain willow (Salix caroliniana) and sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana).   

Midstory vegetation includes wax myrtle (Myrica cerifica), myrsine (Rapanea punctata) and buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).  Also common are eastern poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) and white twinvine (Sarcostemma clausum). 

Listed plant species within the preserve include locally common but nationally and globally rare bromeliads such as the common wild pine (Tillandsia fasciculata) seen in the picture to the left and the inflated wild pine (Tillandsia balbisiana).  Sixty-four (64) plant species have been documented within the preserve, with 61 (96%) being native species.

 

 

Little is recorded for the occurrence of animal species at the Preserve; though deer, racoon and black bear are likely common visitors. 

Bird species recorded include American Robin, black and white warblers, palm warblers, red shouldered hawk, red bellied woodpecker, downy woodpecker, tree swallow, gray catbird, turkey vulture, blue-gray gnatcatcher, northern cardinal, blue jay and northern mockingbird. 

Many insect species also make the preserve home, including the zebra longwing butterfly, the imported fire ant and the spectacular black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia), also known as the banana spider (shown on the right).  These colorful orb weavers attach their webs to vegetation typically between two and eight feet off the ground.  If not watching carefully, an unwary hiker could blunder into one and end up covered with its sticky web.  All spiders bite and have venom, though the black and yellow garden spider is not aggressive and its venom is weak.  Left alone, it is harmless.

 Argiope aurantia - Yellow Garden Orbweaver Spider

Reason for Acquisition: This preserve was acquired for its high quality native habitat,  its wetlands that serve to recharge the surficial aquifer, and for its connectivity with other environmentally sensitive lands within the Horsepen Strand. 

Management Goals:  Ten year goals for this preserve include eliminating and reducing human impacts to plants and animals, removing or controlling populations of invasive, exotic or problematic plants and animals, and facilitating recreational and educational uses compatible with conservation.