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Discover the wild side of the woods

If you’ve ever wanted to explore the woods with a guide, your golden opportunity is Saturday, April 22, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the annual “Welcome to the Woods” event at Seminole Forest Wildlife Management Area in Lake County.

Space for this free event is limited due to its popularity, so participants must register in advance by calling the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at 352-732-1225. Participants should arrive by 9 a.m. the day of the event.

The FWC and the Florida Forest Service want to introduce people to the many opportunities a WMA offers. The one-day program continues to attract a crowd, and offers a great opportunity for people of all ages to get outdoors and enjoy a guided tour of this scenic area. Participants can learn to fish at Bear Pond, shoot a bow and arrow, hike along the Florida National Scenic Trail, enjoy a “hayless” hayride to Blackwater Creek, learn safe boating practices and take a short canoe or kayak trip along the creek.

While on the WMA, be sure to look for wildlife, including Florida scrub-jays, swallow-tailed kites, Florida sandhill cranes, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, alligators and otters.

On Saturday, there will be educational wildlife exhibits that include live snakes and a program on how prescribed burns benefit the state’s ecosystems. Equipment used as part of the controlled burning process will be featured.

This year, the FWC is commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Wildlife Management Area system – nearly 6 million acres of lands and one of the state’s greatest natural treasures. The FWC oversees this statewide network, managing these remote and scenic lands for conservation and recreation. To find out more, visit MyFWC.com/WMA75.

Participants should wear clothing suitable for light hiking and bring bug spray, sun protection, snacks and water.

The Seminole Forest WMA is on State Road 46 just west of the Wekiva River in Lake County.