Going with the Flow: Exploring Loblolly Woods Nature Park
...more pollutants seep into the water as it travels further into the city, and Loblolly Park is a perfect example. Oil from cars, discarded trash, and animal waste from the roads, businesses, and apartments surrounding the park are swept up in the surface runoff. The runoff flows into the creek and contaminates the water.
The natural beauty of Loblolly Woods Nature Park provides a welcome reprieve from the city traffic. In the park, visitors can find a variety of wildlife, including woodpeckers, turtles, and even the occasional hawk among many others.
The park is located at the confluence of Possum Creek and Hogtown Creek. As the Gainesville Clean Water Partnership official website states, the meeting of these two creeks is significant since, "Possum Creek is the largest tributary to Hogtown Creek, which discharges to the Floridan Aquifer via Haile Sink."
The main trail, which stretches from one end of the park to the other, branches off into several smaller trails that allow visitors to explore the area and get closer to the combined waters of the two creeks which cut through the woods and continue to flow southwest.
The clear, fast-flowing creek may appear inviting (especially on a hot Florida afternoon), and many visitors may even be tempted to wade in its waters, but looks can be deceiving.
Laminated signs posted along the trail warn visitors not to enter the creek due to the high concentration of fecal bacteria in the water. The QR codes on the signs provide links to the Alachua County website. However, the page containing specific information about the levels of bacteria in the creek is nowhere to be found.
Regardless, more pollutants seep into the water as it travels further into the city, and Loblolly Park is a perfect example. Oil from cars, discarded trash, and animal waste from the roads, businesses, and apartments surrounding the park are swept up in the surface runoff. The runoff flows into the creek and contaminates the water.
The contrast between the poor water quality of the creek and Loblolly Park's natural beauty serves as a direct reminder of the potential negative impact that water pollution can have on the city if it is left unchecked. The wildlife that calls the park home would not be the only ones affected, however. The creek will continue to flow into the Floridan Aquifer, which Gainesville relies on for its drinking water, and it will bring the fecal bacteria and other contaminants along with it.
For more information about how to keep Gainesville's waterways clean, visit the Gainesville Clean Water Partnership website to find ways to get involved.