FWC hosts WMA anniversary event at Babcock-Webb
For families and others looking for outdoor opportunities this weekend, the state’s original wildlife management area has ample offerings. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will host a free public event Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area, 29200 Tuckers Grade, Punta Gorda, Florida 33955. The event will honor the 75th anniversary of Babcock-Webb’s creation, which launched the state’s vast WMA system.
Attendees can take a hayride with a biologist, cast a line at a kids’ fishing clinic, participate in archery and shooting sports activities, develop kayaking skills and learn about conservation at various hands-on exhibits. There will also be exciting displays, including an FWC law enforcement K-9 demonstration. Food trucks will be on-site as well.
The WMA system is one of Florida’s greatest natural treasures. Babcock-Webb was established in late 1941 in Charlotte and Lee counties. By the 1960s, there were 28 WMAs. Today the FWC is the lead manager or landowner of over 1.4 million acres, and works in partnership with other public and private landowners on another 4.5 million acres. These healthy habitats are essential to Florida wildlife – both common and imperiled species. The FWC uses its scientific expertise and a comprehensive ecological approach to manage a variety of wildlife while encouraging public access to these wild lands.
“Florida has one of the largest systems of public lands in the country at nearly 6 million acres, and these lands are the best of the best of what wild Florida has to offer,” said FWC Chairman Brian Yablonski. “These natural communities span a variety of habitats from longleaf pine uplands and pine flatwoods to the hardwood hammocks and sawgrass savannas of the Everglades. Not only are these areas beautiful, they are managed to provide habitat for many species of wildlife and access for people to enjoy hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and more.”
WMAs provide many recreational opportunities including paddling, fishing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, photography, wildlife viewing, and target shooting at areas with a public shooting range. They also offer a wide range of hunting opportunities including special hunts for families and people with disabilities. Throughout 2017, the FWC will host a variety of events to celebrate Florida’s WMAs. Events include a statewide geocaching challenge, volunteer work days, a photo contest, guided hikes, fun opportunities to explore WMAs, and citizen science bioblitzes where members of the public help document wildlife species at WMAs.
To learn more about this or other upcoming events or to find a WMA near you, visit MyFWC.com/WMA75. Share your visits to Florida WMAs on social media by using #WMAzing.