The State and the Counties of Florida have done a
fairly good job of preserving small patches of wilder-
ness in a series of parks located all over the state.
Most of these serve as local picnic areas, and have
playing fields near them, but their most important
features are trails which wind through the woods
and along streams so that people can see the land
as it once was and catch glimpses of the wildlife that
is still fairly abundant. I walked through the park on
the outskirts of Ft. Meade on Monday, June 7, 2004.
It's bordered by the Peace River which flows from
central Florida southward to the bay at Punta Gorda.
This is a region of the state not many tourists see.
There are no great attractions, and Polk and Hardee
Counties in which most of the Peace River lies have
the lowest income levels in the state. Consequently
they remain similar to what all of Florida, except for
coastal resorts, was fifty years ago. It's pleasant to
walk along the banks of the Peace River and watch the numerous fish lolling in the pale brown water. It gives a sense of sleepiness, which used to be the Florida motif -- before Disney World came, and Sea World, and every other kind of world that has turned much of central Florida into a site fit for description by Dante. I hope these little outlying districts will be able, somehow, to maintain themselves as the greed for tourist dollars washes all the rest of old Florida away.

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©John R. Turner

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Patches of Florida Wilderness