Master plan upgrades to improve experience at Moccasin Lake Park

CLEARWATER — City leaders will host a free, family-friendly festival Saturday to showcase the many recent upgrades and changes at Moccasin Lake Nature Park, which opened in 1982.

“In 2013, the City of Clearwater embarked on a master plan for Moccasin Lake Park with two primary goals in mind: to preserve the 50-acre habitat that plays host to six different ecosystems; and to provide environmental education that capitalizes on the park’s natural beauty,” Parks and Recreation Department Administrator Felicia Leonard said.

The park is currently undergoing a $100,000 renovation that includes a new pier and improvements to the park’s trails and boardwalks.

According to city’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan, the city has budgeted $400,000 next year for capital improvements. Leonard also said that the city has applied for a $200,000 grant from the Water Conservation Fund for additional park improvements.

Those improvements will include renovations of the park’s interpretive center, restrooms, picnic facilities, parking and landscaping, as well as increasing the educational programs that will be offered.

In conjunction with the recently completed renovation work, the city decided to drop the $3 admission fee, and there are discussions about opening the park to the public on Sundays for the first time ever beginning in the fall.

“We are not charging the admission fee anymore because we trying to encourage visitation to the park,” Leonard said. “And we are collaborating with our partners to provide longer hours, including drop-in use on Sundays starting in September.”

Leonard said the improvements at Moccasin Lake Park are just part of the city’s efforts to enhance such patches of preserved land in Clearwater.

“The city is 98.1 percent built-out, so these facilities provide resident s a place to interact with nature and learn about the environment,” she said.

“We have 754 acres of environmental parkland in Clearwater, and we are working on providing a diverse set of educational programs at all of our natural facilities in the city.”

Eagle Day Festival

To showcase the recent changes at the park located at 2750 Park Trail Lane, officials are hosting a special event on Saturday.

The Eagle Day Festival from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. will feature nature exhibits, children’s arts and crafts, entertainment and a drum circle, and will be highlighted by the introduction of two bald eagles into the park’s ecosystem.

“This weekend we’re hosting a festival to debut Wish and Penelope, two injured and non-releasable bald eagles recently brought to live at the park,” Leonard said.

“The event is our way of letting the public see what we have already done here and to explain our long-term plans for the park.”

The park currently is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The facility also is used for summer camps, educational programs and group tours throughout the week.

“The park is heavily supported by volunteers, and we are always looking for more volunteers,” Leonard said. “The more volunteers we have, the more services we can provide.”

To learn about becoming a volunteer at Moccasin Lake Park, contact Krystie Epperson at (727) 562-4803.

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