Around The Parks: Trolley To Everglades National Park, Volunteers Needed At Santa Monica Mountains NRA, Storytelling At Big South Fork National River And Recreation Area

Trolley service will soon be able to carry you from Homestead to both Everglades and Biscayne national parks. NPS photo.

You'll soon be able to ride a trolley to Everglades and Biscayne national parks from Homestead, Florida.

Free public transportation to Everglades National Park from the City of Homestead will be available on weekends this winter from approximately November to May. The popular, free Homestead community trolley line will add the national parks to its weekend routes.

Presently there is no means of public transportation to Everglades or Biscayne National Park. The new trolley route will connect tourists and local communities with the majestic beauty of Everglades and Biscayne national parks and allow these national treasures to be seen and experienced by everyone.

Homestead City officials are working with the National Parks Conservation Association, Biscayne and Everglades national park managers, and community stakeholders to develop the official routes, which will include stops at Everglades National Park as well as the Dante Fascell Visitor Center in Biscayne National Park.

The City of Homestead historic downtown departure and return stop will connect with Miami-Dade County public transportation routes. The program will take advantage of the newly expanded Homestead trolley fleet of four vehicles. The vehicles were procured by federal grants and Miami-Dade County People Transportation Plan funds. The City of Homestead is located less than ten miles from Everglades National Park.

The transportation plan was originally proposed by Homestead City Councilman Stephen R. Shelley. “We are one of the only cities in America located between two national parks, and as a result, we have an exciting opportunity to capitalize on the eco-tourism dollars generated by our location,” said Councilman Shelley, an avid outdoorsman.

“Not only will this recreational trolley route provide the local community access to the national parks in their own back yard,” said Jacqueline Crucet, the senior program coordinator for the National Parks Conservation Association, “it will also draw visitors and tourists from the larger urban areas of Miami to our national treasures. National parks are economic generators for gateway communities. The City of Homestead understands this and their investment in our national parks is an investment in their city as well.”

Recreational and eco-tourism activities related to Everglades National Park contribute millions of dollars each year to the local economy. The park welcomes approximately one million visitors annually who spend approximately $146.8 million in communities surrounding the park. This spending supported 2,408 jobs in the local area.

"I am delighted with this new opportunity to provide our neighbors, friends and worldwide visitors with improved and much needed access to the wonders of Everglades National Park via the new Homestead trolley route," said Everglades National Park Superintendent Dan Kimball.

Volunteers Needed To Work With Youth In Santa Monica Mountains NRA

The National Park Service is seeking volunteers with an interest in helping young people discover the beauty and history of the Santa Monica Mountains. The deadline to submit an application is September 14.

"Our education programs wouldn't be possible without volunteers," said Barbara Applebaum, supervisory park ranger for education programs at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. "It's a really special opportunity to connect students to the outdoors and learn more about the mountains at the same time."

Ranger Applebaum is looking for volunteers who can commit one or two weekdays per week starting this October. The programs take place at park sites in Newbury Park, Agoura Hills and Malibu.

Although prior experience is not necessary, a strong desire to work with young people is required. Volunteers will become an integral part of an environmental education team that works outdoors with elementary, middle and high school students. National Park Service training will be held the week of October 21.

For more information, please contact Barbara Applebaum at 805-370-2304 or . Applications can also be downloaded at this site.

Storytellers Gathering At Big South Fork National River And Recreation Area

The 21st annual "Haunting in the Hills" Storytelling Festival will be held Saturday, September 21, in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area at Bandy Creek.

Staff at Big South Fork invite you to share your own stories of living, playing or working in the park. Pop in and share your favorite place to visit in the park or schedule a time to sit down and describe life growing up in No Business. We are looking for all types and lengths of stories.

Walk-ins are encouraged to visit from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Interpretation and Education Building next to the Bandy Creek Visitor Center. There will be a digital photo scanner set up so bring your photos to record how your history is the park's history.

Parking for the event will be in the field across the road from the Bandy Creek Visitor Center. Bring the entire family and plan on spending the day to enjoy all of the activities.

Paurotis Pond Back Open For Humans At Everglades National Park

Paurotis Pond at Everglades National Park (and the zone beyond the parking area adjacent to the pond), has been reopened after the seasonal closure to protect nesting birds. Visitors may now enjoy open access for fishing, canoeing, and wildlife viewing. Paurotis Pond is located 24 miles from the main park entrance in Homestead.

Paurotis Pond is one of the traditional nesting sites located in the heart of Everglades National Park and is seasonally closed to protect the endangered Wood Stork and all nesting birds from human disturbance. The area was closed in January for the nesting season for Roseate Spoonbills, which tend to nest earlier than other birds.

The closure for nesting can vary in length from year to year, depending on bird behavior. The 2013 closure was longer than in some years past due to either a late nesting, or second nesting, of Great Egrets and White Ibis.

Every winter "dry season," wading birds throughout the Everglades gather at traditional (and new) nesting sites in preparation for nest building. They form nesting colonies that often contain hundreds and even thousands of nesting birds. Species nesting at Paurotis Pond include the Great Egret, White Ibis, Snowy Egret, Roseate Spoonbill, Tri-colored Heron, Little Blue Heron, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Great Blue Heron, and Anhinga. However, one nesting species in particular really stands out among the others: the federally endangered Wood Stork.

In recent years, Paurotis Pond has been the nesting site for approximately 400 pairs of nesting Wood Storks.