Manager's Message

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Prescribed Burn Tiger Branch

We welcome you to our park during the busy winter season when we receive many visitors from out-of-state.  For those who may be unaware, Highlands County and our state parks, Highlands Hammock and Lake June-in-Winter Scrub, received a great deal of damage from the high winds and heavy rainfall which came with Hurricane Irma in September 2017.   Tree fall, downed limbs and other storm debris are spread throughout the park and will be reduced by prescribed burns as weather conditions permit to minimize potential wildfires, maintain fire dependent ecosystems and benefit wildlife.  Prescribed fire, or fire which is intentionally applied under conditions selected to achieve specific resource management goals, also serves to minimize the risk of wildfires, thus protecting neighborhood homes in close proximity to park wildlands. Prescribed burns are being conducted by Highlands Hammock burn crews with the assistance of Western firefighters who are being trained by Florida Park Service staff to burn in Florida.  Several burns have been conducted recently and will continue into the spring months.  Visitors are advised that they may see residual smoke in "blackened" areas where burns have taken place. In the deep mid-winter through early spring, campers and park visitors are advised that nights and mornings can be very cold, and it is not unusual for temperatures to drop from 80 degrees to the 30s and 40s with passing cold fronts. Cypress Swamp Trail boardwalk remains closed as it is under repair due to damage sustained from Hurricane Irma.  Winter visitors may enjoy brisk hikes or bike rides on cool mornings and warm afternoons. Songbirds and other migratory birds as well as year-round species may be observed. The campgrounds are quite busy, particularly on the weekends, so it is advisable for campers to secure reservations in advance during the peak winter visitation months and through early spring. The South Canal tram tours are now operated by the Hammock Inn Concessionaire which is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Firewood, ice, bike rentals and gift items may be purchased at the Hammock Inn in addition to the tram tickets. For more information, call the Hammock Inn at (863) 402-0061. For information about upcoming events and activities including the Music in the Park concerts, Monday Morning Nature Walks, Florida Humanities Council lecture series and other special events, please review Events. For general information, please call the Ranger Station at (863) 386-6094.