Here’s what Dunedin’s newest park – Gladys E Douglas Preserve – looks like

Reindeer moss

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A new nature preserve opened last month in Dunedin, Florida. The Gladys E. Douglas Preserve is 43 acres and the city describes it as the largest undeveloped sandy ecosystem remaining in north Pinellas County.

Residents and local governments saved the land when it was threatened by development.

Vince Gizzi, parks and recreation director for the City of Dunedin, told WMNF’s Chris Young that preserving the land was a must.

“The community, the city, the county had a shot at getting this property for park land, just a gorgeous piece of untouched, natural property and felt that we gotta get this property, one way or another so the city and the county got involved, and between the two, raised $5.5 million, which still left us short $4.5 million. The Pinellas community foundation were able to raise, with private donations of over 1100 people, contributed to that $4.5 million. It’s quite the story.”

On Sunday morning I decided to check out the preserve and take some photos.

The main trail is less than a half-mile long, but more trails are planned for the future. There are three entry points, two along Keene Road and the main parking lot, which can be accessed at 1900 Virginia Avenue. In all, I walked about 1.1 miles — about 2,000 steps — in a half hour by taking a few short side trails and retracing my steps back to the parking lot.

Rosemary bald

Here are some photos of what a sign describes as “the last known remaining rosemary bald in Pinellas County.”

The first two photos are a Florida rosemary shrub and reindeer moss. The sign says rosemary balds “are relatively open landcapes located on elevated sandy ridges and characterized by large Florida rosemary shrubs. Few other plants can grow in this habitat. This may be a result of the secretion of ceratiolin by Florida rosemary into the soil which inhibits shrubs, thus the name ‘Rosemary Bald.'” The sign points out that this type of plant community was once abundant but has mostly “disappeared as a result of development, habitat fragmentation, and fire suppression.”

The sign lists prickly pear cactus (which I saw) and scrub jay (which I didn’t) as other species found in the rosemary bald community.

The rosemary bald is fenced off to protect it.

Video of Florida rosemary shrub, reindeer moss and prickly pear cactus:

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