13 Jul Tread Lightly! Impact Report: Ocala National Forest Farles Prairie Cleanup and Restoration
Florida Project #4
Project: Ocala National Forest Farles Prairie Cleanup and Restoration
Location: Ocala National Forest, Florida
Description: This project was funded by Can-Am Off-Road. Can-Am has committed to funding four trail stewardship projects in the state of Florida in partnership with Tread Lightly! to help maintain and improve access to public lands and off-road trails.
On July 8, 21 volunteers, six of whom were first-time trail maintenance volunteers, joined the Ocala National Forest and Tread Lightly! Team to execute a major cleanup, restoration and revitalization of the Farles Prairie Trailhead and recreation area. These volunteers comprised of a mix of full-size off-road and SxS enthusiasts coming together to work with the Forest Service to give back and re-open this recreation area.
This location has seen significant vandalism including the breaking of locks on the bathroom doors, destroying the picnic area grills and leaving trash at the trailhead and neighboring boat ramp. Users have also been riding off-trail and in unauthorized areas causing damage to vegetation around the lake. Due to this vandalism and lack of resources, this area was on its way to being closed.
While a familiar Florida pop-up thunderstorm delayed work for about 45 minutes, it also provided a nice relief to the hot sun and temperatures of the morning. After the storms passed, the volunteers and forest teams picked up 250 pounds of trash, trimmed and cleared brush, mowed overgrown grass, power-washed bathrooms, and installed wooden bollard posts to protect the lakeside vegetation.
What was once a very neglected and unattractive recreation area within Ocala National Forest, is once again a beautiful and scenic place to enjoy the trees, water, and picnic areas for visitors to enjoy. To thank the volunteers, Can-Am facilitated a wonderful hamburger and hotdog lunch with sides and picnic fixings.
Thank you to the partners that supported this project:
- Can-Am Off-Road
- Ocala National Forest, US Forest Service
“A fixer-upper. A beautiful natural view cluttered with signs of inadequate attention and no love. That’s what Farles Prairie Recreation Area reminded me of until today. It’s now a naturally beautiful place that calls to you whether you are on a trail with a UTV, Jeep or driving by in a minivan. This must-stop-to-see area is highlighted by visible and welcoming picnic tables, open space with fresh prairie grasses and defined parking areas. Wooden posts now are visible to protect the area as people enjoy the wonderful views of the lake and vegetation native to Florida. Tread Lightly!, Can Am, The Forest Service and volunteers of young and old contributed the time, talent and treasure to reveal once again the sheer awe of nature. Afterall, this is why we come in the first place.” -Don Schlonski, Volunteer and OHV rider
“We are grateful and appreciate the time, effort, and service the volunteers, Can Am, and Tread Lightly! gave to the Ocala National Forest. Their support allows us to continue to connect people to the outdoors . It’s because of the dedication of volunteers and the efforts of our partners that we are able to continue to sustain our recreation areas which allow us to fulfill our commitment in providing a diversified outdoor recreation portfolio to the public. We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with our partners and volunteers in providing recreational opportunities to the Public on the Ocala National Forest.”-Brandon Burke,USFS