With a well-attended ribbon cutting celebration held late last month, Hillsborough County’s Lower Green Swamp Nature Preserve and its newest hiking and horse trails opened to hikers, equestrians, bird-watchers, and nature lovers.
Formerly known as Cone Ranch and considered by some as a rustic paradise, the preserve is located at 3536 E. Knights Griffin Rd. in Plant City. According to Marti Ryan of the Hillsborough County Communications and Digital Media Services, this property in northeastern Hillsborough County was acquired in 2010 and spans 12,800 acres of flora and fauna. “Its tributaries connect to central Florida’s Green Swamp and the preserve is currently managed as an active cattle ranch and pine plantation,” Ryan said. “It is the largest preserve in the Jan K. Platt Environment Lands Acquisition and Protection Program (ELAPP).
Ryan emphasized that the public currently has access to nearly 400 acres of this serene and environmentally-sensitive treasure. The County actually held two events in order to celebrate the opening of the preserve, the first of which took place at the foot of a brand new, multipurpose bridge overlooking one of many streams within the borders of the preserve.
“Hillsborough County Commissioners and other special guests took part in a tree-planting at the preserve,” Ryan said.
As part of the celebration, a second event was also held by the Hillsborough County’s Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department at the Lower Green Swamp Preserve just days later which featured family-friendly activities including hands-on tree plantings, guided hiking tours and hayrides.
“We had a great showing for this event as well,” Ryan said. “Volunteers planted a number of pine trees, including children who had the opportunity to tag the trees they had planted.” As park officials are working together with the public to manage and resort the preserve, area residents are encouraged to visit and enjoy its many hiking and equestrian trails. For more information on Lower Green Swamp Preserve and grand opening week activities, visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org/parks or call 813-672-7876.