TAVARES — The Lake County Parks & Trails Division is set to open three public land properties beginning July 26 for passive recreation. The properties include Ellis Acres Reserve, located off County Road 42 in Paisley; The Pasture Reserve, located off Lake Erie Road in South Lake; and Lake May Reserve located off County Road 44A in Eustis.
All of the properties will be open daily from dawn to dusk. Each of the largely undeveloped reserves offer scenic views of picturesque landscapes and feature unpaved hiking and biking trails and small low-impact parking lots. A variety of Florida native plants, birds and other wildlife can be found on the properties due to the diverse habitats that each offer. Persons who visit the reserves and who will be hiking the trails are encouraged to wear appropriate clothing for the weather, and to bring water, insect repellent, and items for sun protection, such as a hat and sunscreen. Because the trails located on the properties might include uneven or unstable terrain, hikers are encouraged to wear appropriate footwear.
The properties were all acquired by the County through the Public Lands Management program established in September 2005. In 2004, Lake County voters approved a public-lands referendum that called for up to an additional one-third millage for the acquisition and improvement of land to protect drinking water, improve water quality of rivers and lakes, protect open space and provide passive recreation areas. To date, more than 2,000 acres have been acquired through the Public Lands Management Program.
Much of the time-intensive land-restoration work that has been accomplished so far includes uprooting non-native plant species and planting native vegetation, but restoration efforts and enhancements are still underway on all of the properties.
Future recreation opportunities at all of the reserves include picnic areas. Both Ellis Acres and Lake May Reserves are slated to have canoe launches, and The Pasture Reserve will add primitive camping and wildlife observation areas. Lake May Reserve will also feature catch and release fishing.
For more information about the Public Lands Management program, call the Lake County Parks & Trails Division at (352) 253-4950, email firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to www.lakecountyfl.gov/parks.