Saving Orange Lake Overlook
Saving Orange Lake Overlook Park Project by Gary Borse
For over two decades I have been cattle farming in North Central Florida and this area we live in is one of the most beautiful in all of Florida. Orange Lake is part of that magic. I have ridden my horses around Orange Lake, Orange Creek, Lake Lochloosa, and the Hawthorne Trail as well as trailblazing some of the Florida Greenway for horse trails before they were open to the public. I have seen some incredible places and scenic views in Florida, but nothing like “OLO”, or “The Orange Lake Overlook” as we call it.
The sunrises and moonrises here are so magical and inspiring they will help you connect with your maker each time you witness them from the top of that hill. You can see forever and it simply needs to become a park. With its elevated and unobstructed prehistoric view of Orange Lake, it is one of the best vistas in the State of Florida and needs to be saved for everyone to enjoy into perpetuity. An Orange Lake Scenic Overlook on the Florida Map would also bring more locally-owned business opportunities to the areas of McIntosh, Orange Lake and Micanopy.
When I first saw OLO, I promised I would do what I could to save this for everyone and when it went on the market for sale last year, I started lobbying every conservation group to help us save this from the developers. Tom Kay, Executive Director of The Alachua Conservation Trust, looked at the property from the roof of the old building there now, and agreed they would do what they could to purchase and preserve this land for public use and enjoyment. Picnics, photography, painting, bird watching, meditation, yoga, hiking, or just stop to take a deep breath and relax for a few minutes watching the sunrise and all the birds waking up. Or the remnants of a hurricane over the Atlantic, or a forest fire burning in St Augustine, you can literally see forever and we need to make sure we create this park for everyone to be able to have these wonderful experiences.
The Alachua Conservation Trust now has a contract on this parcel of land on HWY 441 just south of McIntosh. Closing is scheduled for November and we need to raise over a million dollars for this piece of sacred ground we are trying to save for you to enjoy. This view is what William Bartram saw, as well as millions of people thousands of years ago, and Hwy 441 was one of the original roads through the center of the Florida peninsula.
Besides a historical scenic landmark, this Orange Lake and Lake Lochloosa area is basically a wildlife refuge and birds like the Sandhill Crane spend winters and some stay here all year long. Other frequent visitors on the hill include bald eagles, osprey, herons, egrets, ibis, storks, vultures, white pelicans, anhingas, and cormorants, kingfishers, split tail kites, red tail hawks, pileated woodpeckers, mockingbirds, cardinals, blue jays, doves, bluebirds, crows, deer, coyotes, fox, racoon, possum, skunks and snakes. And that’s the short list. During the migrating months the bird traffic is bumper to bumper as that area is a source of food, rest and breeding for flocks of many species like Canadian geese, red wing blackbirds and robins.
Once the property is purchased we can begin to raise the funds needed to create amenities I dream would be necessary to create this project for the people:
Three pavilions, an observation tower, restroom facilities, and a parking lot, as well as a path around the property for all people to access its different views. All built without obstructing the timeless view from the highway. This can only be done when the property is purchased. So please help us, we only have a few months and we need donations to make this dream park come true.
Please show your support for this project by donating to the Alachua Conservation Trust and select the Orange Lake Overlook as your contribution destination. Share this information with your friends so they can also help us reach our goal and purchase this property for everyone to enjoy. Ocala and Gainesville, Marion County and Alachua County, let’s do this together and create the future and protect the beauty of North Central Florida.
Alachuaconservationtrust.org Tell them you want to save OLO!
Thanks to all the people that helped with donations and moral support, we saved OLO into conservation through Alachua Conservation Trust. The park is now open sunrise to sunset and there is a wonderful trail. Lookout tower and restrooms to come as well as pavillions for picnic and other activities.