Kissimmee River Basin – The Northern Everglades: Avon Park Air Force Range

Paul Eberbach – Chief Environmental Flight
Lt. Colonial Charles MacLaughlin
Elam Stoltzfus
This year Elam & Clyde are putting together
a PBS program on the Kissimmee River Basin –
The Northern Everglades.
To keep track of their progress check out:
The Avon Park Air Force Range (APAFR) is the
largest Wildlife Management Area in the
southwest region of Florida and the tenth
largest in the state. They rank in the top ten
of Florida Wildlife Management areas and
few places rival it as a quality public wildlife area.
It is located outside of Avon Park along the edge of
the Kissimmee River.
There are 32 miles of hiking and nature trails:
Lake Arbuckle Hiking Trail, Arbuckle Nature Trail
and Boardwalk, Sandy Point Wildlife Refuge Trail,
and the Kissimmee River section of the Florida
National Scenic Trail.
They also have small game season permits,
general recreation permits and
Military recreation permits.
The Fish, Wildlife and Outdoor Recreation Program
manages healthy populations of wildlife through
scientifically sound practices. In cooperation with
other programs on the range, they help conduct proper
forest management, rotational cattle grazing and
a prescribed fire program that generally burns
20,000 to 40,000 acres per year.
The entire area creates a buffer of natural lands for
the Kissimmee River. The Air Force should be very
proud of the work they have accomplished here to
maintain a healthy environment.

Paul explaining the amazing ecosystem that
the Air Force is in charge of that surrounds
the area of their training grounds.

A section of the Florida Trail
that runs through Avon Park
Air Force Range

Elam creeping up on some birds…

Paul & Clyde sitting in the car waiting for
Elam to film some birds out in the marsh

Clyde photographing the wild hibiscus

Lake Arbuckle Marsh
It is difficult to see in this small image,
but the bushes out in the marsh are
covered with wild hibiscus.

Elam checking out the view
through Clyde’s camera

Paul checking out the view
in Clyde’s camera

The wild hibiscus stretched as far
as the eye could see. It was an
incredible site!

Wild Pink Hibiscus

It looks like a well kept lawn, but it is
a rare native grass: Cut Throat Grass.
Paul is explaining that this area is one of
the very few places left in the state where
this grass continues to flourish.

We stopped and enjoyed a picnic lunch
in a beautiful oak hammock

Resurrection fern

The Avon Park Air Force Tower with a great
view of the surrounding area. The tower is
also used to view the practice war games.

Elam makes it to the top with all
his gear…a good workout!

Clyde makes it to the top with his gear…
quite a workout!

Clyde explaining the orange filter to Lt. Colonial
Charles MacLaughlin, Elam and Paul Ebersbach
Chief Environmental Flight

Avon Park Air Force Range Tower

Elam filming

Into the swamp along the
Arbuckle Nature Trail

LOVE the texture and colors
of the lichen along the


Boardwalk Tower

Looking down on the boardwalk

Looking down from on top of the
tower to the guys: Elam, Clyde
and Paul. Beyond is Lake Arbuckle.

It was sprinkling while Clyde took
this photo

Arbuckle Nature Trail 1

Arbuckle Nature Trail 2

Clyde photographing

Arbuckle Nature Trail 3

Clyde and me photographing

Another great day with wonderful people
and a beautiful environment!
photos by both Elam & Niki

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