Beyond the beach eco tours available

Published: Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 04:35 PM.

Schindele, along with Brooke Saari, from The University of Florida IFAS Extension, will be hosting The Jewels of 30A- Coastal Dune Lakes Tour in April and June.

"Brooke and I have done similar tours in the past, which were quite popular so it was a natural fit to offer them," said Schindele.

The Coastal Dune Lakes tour will start at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park to visit Campbell Lake , the least developed of the dune lakes, followed by Western Lake and Oyster Lake .

"We'll discuss the ecology of the lakes and compare the land use," Schindele said. "The dune lakes are the only place in the world that we know of where lakes exchange water with a larger body of water [ Gulf of Mexico ]. You can go fresh and saltwater fishing in the same area."

There's also a lot of historical trivia to learn on the trips. The Coffeen Nature Preserve, where Susan Paladini of the Coastal Dune Lakes Advisory Board will lead tours, hosted World War II missile testing. In the two-story Wesley House at Eden State Gardens State Park is the second-largest known collection of Louis XVI furniture in the United States . Karl Renelt, of Into the Wild Eco Diversions, will host a Paddle Excursion beginning at Eden Gardens April 14.

With a dozen tours from now until May, McDowell said she hopes visitors get a deeper sense of the land they're visiting.

"Whether they hike through the forest or paddle in the bay, I hope they take away the sense of how the natural resources are connected," she said. "The beach doesn't stand alone."

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