Little Orange Creek Nature Park and Preserve

PLC Partnerships and Updates

Grand Opening of Little Orange Creek Nature Park and Preserve occurred on January 22, 2017.

Little Orange Creek Nature Park (LOCNP) was officially opened in January 2017 after seven years of site preparation. In 2010, under the guidance of the late Dr. Kathy Cantwell, PLC wrote and managed an application to the Florida’s Community Trust Grant (FCT) for the City of Hawthorne. The grant was for the acquisition and conservation of 1200 acres that would become Little Orange Creek Nature Park and the centerpiece of Little Orange Creek Preserve. In the years since, PLC provided financial and volunteer assistance (from gifts, grants and labor) to renovate the 5,000 square foot house and prepare the property and the structure to open as a community center which was named the Kathy Cantwell Environmental Education Center. The center has also become a venue for many public and private events.

Our leadership role in the acquisition and management of the FCT Grant for the City of Hawthorne allowed PLC a greater voice in the location and design of State Road 20 bridges and low-rise curbs for Wildlife movement. PLC and others successfully petitioned the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to construct a 300-foot bridge across Fowler’s Prairie at LOCNP in order to restore water and wildlife movement and protect imperiled plants. An additional bridge over Little Orange Creek provides safe public and wildlife movement under State Road 20.

Come explore and enjoy Little Orange Creek Nature Park amenities. We encourage supporters to come out and experience the many new park improvements.  Come and enjoy the amenities: nature trails, exercise trails, playground equipment, picnic pavilion, kayak launch, fishing platform, historical area. Outdoor bathrooms and handi-cap parking are provided for the convenience of Park visitors.

There is a new recreational addition created by PLC and IDEX volunteers who worked to establish a regulation style volleyball court. On Saturday April 28, 2018, 25 volunteers worked clearing ground of weeds and debris and sodding in slopes to the newly created volleyball court to fulfill one of the FCT grant requirements. The year before PLC and IDEX volunteers constructed 12 picnic tables for the park with proceeds from IDEX Corporation.

Partner Organization “Friends of Little Orange Creek Nature Park” Updates from 2019

The Friends of Little Orange Creek (FLOC) continue to make Little Orange Creek Nature Park a great safe place for kids and families to enjoy nature and some outdoor recreation. The Little Orange Creek “Environmental Education Program” completed its first full academic year 2018-2019. FLOC provided programs to fourth graders from 12 Hawthorne, Melrose, and East Gainesville schools through a grant from AEC Trust.  They served approximately 800 students from primarily Title I, underserved schools, in a program compatible with required standards in earth science. Since there inception, FLOC has continued to be a great partner and community source to the park. Please visit…FLOC website.

“Little Orange Creek Preserve (MOU) Partners”

Alachua Conservation Trust continued its leadership role in managing the combined acquisitions of our conservation partners. The protected wildlands of Little Orange Creek Preserve have increased from PLC’s initial purchase of 1200 acres with FCT funding to 3,000 plus acres, thanks to subsequent acquisitions by the Alachua Conservation Trust,  Conservation Florida and Alachua County. These organizations are jointly managing the 3,000 acres with PLC and the City of Hawthorne. A parking area and access to several trails in the preserve are on the northside of Hwy 20. Please visit…ACT website and come out and enjoy some great hiking trails.