The monthly newsletter of the
Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail
The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail (GFBWT) is a network of over 500 sites throughout the state. The most current release of “Kite Tales” shares an article titled “Getting Back to Nature” which focuses on the great City of Deltona.
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Issue #4 | July 2020
- Getting Back to Nature
Getting Back to Nature
The city of Deltona started as a master planned retirement community developed by the General Development Corporation. The vision was a familiar one to Florida – provide affordable single-family homes to retirees. Deltona opened in 1962 and has since grown to be the largest city in Volusia County in population and physical size. Although the street parcel layout may appear to be stereotypical “suburban,” there is a lot more to the Deltona story than what the street map tells you. Deltona is on its way to becoming a nature park showcase.
You see, when the city was being planned, a substantial amount of acreage was left undeveloped. In some cases, 50+ acre swaths of land were leapfrogged over and today remain in their natural state. The city of Deltona recognized that these land holdings represented a sustainable treasure for both residents and visitors. The city’s EcoParks Program was born in 2010.
Today seven EcoParks are open to the public and they allow passive access to habitats that range from hardwood swamp to sand hill scrub, pine prairie and hundreds of acres of lakes. The EcoParks program is growing, with an additional six parks being considered for public use. The Deltona nature idea is a simple concept – make nature accessible to all residents to enhance the quality of life. For instance, although Deltona is driving distance to the world class Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, the local Audubon EcoPark will enable residents to enjoy a birding hotspot within the city limits. More than 200 bird species sightings have been made in the Audubon EcoPark.
Longer term, the city intends to become an Eco-Tourism hub, given its central location on the Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail. As a designated Trail Town, Deltona plans to link up its EcoParks with pathways. While there, an Eco-Tourist will have the ability to visit EcoParks via bicycle or by paddling a planned Blueway Trail that will traverse the city’s Butler Chain of Lakes.
Once regarded as a large suburban retirement community, Deltona is a great example of taking advantage of natural assets. As such, the City hired Jerry Mayes as the city’s Ecological Tourism Sustainability Manager and he sums it up with this quote: “We want our residents and visitors to realize nature is closer than they may think. Although we are thrilled that conservation of these lands is a sustainable practice, the most important part of this unique program is to enhance quality of life – because access to natural places make a happy and healthy community.”
For more information about the City of Deltona’s EcoParks, please visit www.FloridaEcoParks.com