[Florida Audubon Society


Lake Wales, Florida

The Ridge Audubon Society's Babson Park Center, located just south of Lake Wales on the Scenic Highway (SR17/US27A), is a gateway to America's most [ Florida from space ] diverse eco-system. The Lake Wales Ridge offers the highest concentration of rare and endangered species in North America.

Millions of years ago, when sea levels were much higher than today, only a few isolated hilltops of today's Lake Wales Ridge were exposed as islands, offering sanctuary to the evolution of dozens of unique species of plants and animals. The rest of the Florida peninsula was covered by a shallow sea, where a vast array of sea life and corals lived and grew. As the sea slowly receded during the ice ages, Florida was slowly exposed, and the new life forms expanded their range along the sandy dunes of the Ridge. Today, the thin, straight line of the Ridge is clearly visible from space.

The sandy, desert-like soils and arid habitat of the Lake Wales Ridge are home to species like the gopher tortoise, sand skink, indigo snake, and scrub jays, [ Scrub Jays ] which have no natural fear of man. Rare plants like the scrub plum, pygmy fringe tree, and scrub blazing star make the area an attraction for botanists.

Today, this web of inter-dependent species is America's equivalent of the Galapagos Islands. Threatened by conversion to agricultural, housing and commercial uses, this unique eco-system is rapidly disappearing under development pressures. A recently-created network of preserves, in both public and private hands, seeks to protect the diaspora of these rare species.

[ Florida Scrub ]

You are invited to visit the Babson Park Nature Center, and learn more about how to view, enjoy, and help protect the rare species which make their homes on the Lake Wales Ridge. The Nature Center Museum is open from 10:00 am to 2:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Information is also available about several area preserves.

A 1500-foot nature trail on site offers a self-guided introduction to some of the protected species, and is open daily from dawn to dusk.

Learn more about Audubon and the Environment:

Check our Meetings and Events Calendar
Learn about Our Chapter, and how to join
Read/post messages on our Ridge Audubon Message Board
Checkout the latest issue of The Flying Eagle Newsletter
Read the Ledger's editorial about flooding by Robert Connors Check out Steve Morrison's Kestrel Project Update
Read about Removing the Oklawaha's Rodman Dam
Visit our favorite Environmental Web Sites
or, e-mail us

Visit  at www.polk-county.com
A comprehensive guide to area resources

Visiting Polk County: Things to See and Do

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LAST UPDATED: Thursday, 18-Mar-2010 16:55:05 EDT