Within the urban Jacksonville we all know lies untouched areas of the environment special to this region. With the help of the Atlantic’s coast, the St. Johns River and its marshes, and the warm climate Jacksonville boasts a wide array of plants and animals. All these plants and animals take advantage of parks and preserves spotted throughout the city. These patches of land set aside for preservation are important for the plants and animals who, just like us, need a place to live. This need becomes harder and harder to fulfill as humans build more and take away the remaining natural areas. Mark, the executive director at Tree Hill Nature Center, explained we should spend more time setting aside land. If we set aside more land and let the animals do their thing they won’t need much more help from us he said
There is something we can do to help plants as well: watching out for the intrusive ones. When these plants come into an area they often become overgrown because the animals don’t want to eat them and they outgrow the other plants sometimes killing them off. When buying plants for your own yard make sure they are local and that they don’t have harmful pesticides on them. These can have negative effects on both the plants and the animals who eat them. The Sawmill Slough Preserve at the University of North Florida has a catalog of every plant and animal in it if you want an easy way to check and see what plants are local.
The Preserve also has plenty of trails one can go and walk or run. The curator of the Preserve, Charles, said that many people go on the trails ritually Friday after work to de-stress. Being out in nature can really help people, he explained, whether it be helping de-stress, lowering blood pressure, or simply helping free up the mind a bit by getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The Preserve at the University of North Florida isn’t the only place in Jacksonville one can go, there are tons of parks and preserves all throughout the city. Some even have informational centers, such as Tree Hill Nature Center, where the whole family can learn a bit about the local plants and animals they might encounter.