Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Nokuse Plantation - private land stewardship at its best

Along the banks of Black Creek in Nokuse Plantation - pronounced "No-GO-See" - Don't listen!!!

"Key West or Bust" - Day 62

M.C. Davis was a friend of the Florida Trail.  He was also very wealthy, very interested in ecology, and very committed to preserving and restoring the ecological hot-spot of diversity that is NW Florida and adjacent Alabama.

The result is Nokuse Plantation - see their web site to explore it in depth.  And for the Florida Trail, the result is many miles of wild-land experience.

M.C. spent an estimated $90 million dollars and bought 53,000 acres in Walton, Co., Florida, mostly large tracts owned by timber companies, and has begun restoring Longleaf Pine to many of these tracts.  The result still looks like a plantation, but it takes time to undo the damage.  I hiked for about two miles through a Longleaf plantation that had just been burned within the past week.  It was fun, but honestly, the scale of this work-in-progress was so huge that it got monotonous.

Where the trail didn't follow the rows but crossed them, I had only the blazes to guide me.  The sign's of trampled footpath had been burned away.

Then in the very middle of this burn I came upon an abandoned old center-pivot irrigation rig.  Monotony abruptly broken.

Derelict agribusiness equipment notwithstanding, the real fun parts were along the wetlands and streams, as shown in the headline photo.  Red Doe Creek particularly impressed me.  This is the clearest, cleanest looking stream I have yet encountered in Florida.

When I finished my immersion in the wonders of Nokuse, I had a road walk to negotiate through the town of Bruce with its very popular 'cash only' Bruce Café.  Since I carry very little cash, I had to opt out.

That road walk, between the FL 81 trailhead at Seven Runs and the Choctawhatchee River at Cowford boat launch ramp was about ten miles long.  It flanks another huge section of Nokuse Plantation where there is trail under active development.  On the Seven Runs side I saw that trail, marked with orange flag tape and mowed and seemingly ready for hiking.

It was tempting to take the time to plunge in there and explore, and I may yet do that.  If it's anything like the trail I hiked today, it will be a 'Do-GO-See' for sure.

Below is a map of today's route, with links to many more photos.

Nokuse Plantation and Bruce, FL at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find hiking trails in California and beyond

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