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January - March, 2017  ~  Volume 5, Issue 1
One of 67 control structures found throughout the park.
Managing the flow of water is very important at the Orlando Wetlands Park. If water flow is too fast, wetland plants do not have time to extract the excess nutrients from the water. If the flow is too slow, the wetlands become stagnant and can end up releasing more nutrients back into the water. Just how do we keep it all moving at the right speed and direction to maintain optimal conditions for nutrient removal?
Control structures were designed to be easy to operate and maintain.
One way is the use of control structures. You may have seen them dotted around the park, though they can be easily overlooked when focusing on the more salient views of wildlife and scenic vistas. The park has 67 control structures in all.  These concrete structures run under berm roads and serve to connect the wetland cells (or sections) of the park. Control structures were designed to be simple to construct and easy to operate and maintain.  One person can quickly make adjustments to the structure in order to either stop-up, release water or change flow direction from specific areas in the park.  

Hooded Merganser

Lophodytes cucullatus

Caspian Tern

Hydroprogne caspia

Ring-necked Duck

Aythya collaris
Volunteering at the Wetlands park was a welcome change for Kris Jones after retiring in 2012 from a career spent in small, windowless rooms. She states "I like that the park serves many favorite part of volunteering at OWP is providing tram tours for our visitors" where she enjoys "seeing their surprise and delight as they tour the park". Kris has also represented the Park at numerous outreach
events and currently does data entry for the Park's visitor logs, volunteer timesheets, and email list. In 2015, Kris moved to Sebastian Inlet to be closer to family. She has since become an ambassador and museum docent for the Friends of the Sebastian Inlet State Park. Kris also enjoys gardening, hiking, wildlife viewing, reading, and caring for three Norwegian Elkhounds and two cats. Thank you Kris for volunteering!
"I encourage our visitors to get out and enjoy the beauty and diversity of nature, whether in their own back yard or one of our country's many local, state and national parks." -Kris Jones
Friends of the Orlando Wetlands (FOW) is a citizen support organization for the City of Orlando's Orlando Wetlands Park. Its mission is to assist the City of Orlando employees in providing educational opportunities to increase community awareness support and appreciation of the park and its wildlife. For more information about becoming a volunteer, please visit our website

Climbing Aster

(Symphyotrichum carolinianum)

Elliott's Aster

(Symphyotrichum elliotti)
Two wildflowers that bloom in winter at Orlando Wetlands Park are Climbing Aster (Symphyotrichum carolinianum) and Elliott's Aster (Symphyotrichum elliottii) in the Aster Family (Asteraceae).  Both are obligate wetland species and both thrive at the park.
Climbing Aster is a pink-flowered, woody wetland plant often seen growing between the branches of trees and shrubs in the wetland cells.  Elliott's Aster has pale purple flowers and grows to about 4 feet tall.  Elliott's Aster grows at the edges of many of the wetlands park cells. 
These asters attract many nectar-seeking pollinators, including  butterflies such as the Red Admiral (see Butterfly Spotlight in this issue of the newsletter).  Pollinators, in turn, are eaten by larger wildlife at the park such as lizards and birds.
Look for these colorful native wildflowers in the winter wetlands landscape.

Text and photos by Randy Snyder and Mary Keim
In winter, many of our butterflies do not fly.  Those that don't fly spend the winter as eggs, larvae or pupae.  Of the over 65 species found at Orlando Wetlands Park (OWP), one that flies all year is the Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta). 
The Red Admiral is easily recognized by reddish-orange bands on the dorsal side of the wings plus red, white and blue on the ventral side of the forewings.  With its forewings relaxed, the ventral view is a mottled brown and gray.
Although Red Admiral adults sometimes feed on flower nectar, more often they feed on tree sap, rotting fruit and animal scat.  When disturbed, Red Admirals often spiral upwards before returning to or near where they were feeding.
Caterpillars of the Red Admiral use host plants in the Nettle Family (Urticaceae).  These  include Florida Pellitory (Parietaria floridana) found in the hammocks of the park and False Nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica) found at the edges of the wetland cells.

While walking in or near the forested areas of the park, be on the look out for the colorful Red Admiral.

Text and photos by Randy Snyder
Red Admiral
(ventral view)
Red Admiral
(forewings relaxed)
On November 16, 2016, the Central Chapter of the Florida Trail Association (FTA) cleared fallen trees and debris around the Orlando Wetlands Park.
We are grateful that the Wetlands Park sustained minimal damage due to Hurricane Matthew this past fall. The most affected areas were the wooded trails along the eastern and northern portions of the park. The Central Chapter of the Florida Trail Association spent all day on November 16th, clearing out these trails from overgrowth and the fallen trees and debris leftover from hurricane Matthew.  
The crew of twelve, armed with chainsaws, loppers and other landscaping tools, diligently carved through the North Woods Branch Trail and the feeder trail along the park's northern perimeter. Thank you FTA for your hard work!
The Central Chapter of the Florida Trails Association meets regularly for trail clean-up projects, hikes, and other exciting events. For more information visit their website at Central Florida Chapter FTA
Friends of the Orlando Wetlands will be available for tram tours on Fridays and Saturdays starting at 9:00 am. Tours are first come, first served. Seating capacity per tour is 14 people. No reservation required. Tours are free but donations are welcome!
For the most up-to-date information about special tour dates, programs and park notifications, please visit our "Schedule of Events" page at
The Wetlands Park Education Center will feature an exhibit on "Wetland Waterworks" during the months of January through March. Visit the center on Fridays and Saturdays, between 9 am and 3 pm, to explore live animal exhibits and hands-on displays about the unique ways we work with water here at the park. The exhibit will also feature incredible scenic photographs by the Friends of the Orlando Wetlands! 
Copyright © 2017 Orlando Wetlands Park, All rights reserved.

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