August is Water Quality Month and it’s the perfect time to think about nearby Lake Griffin. The lake is adjacent to Harbor Hills, providing spectacular views as well as fishing from the neighborhood dock.

The area is part of the Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area known as the Jewel of Lake County. It’s one of the most scenic sites along the Great Florida Birding Trail. This 7,089-acre U.S. wildlife area is maintained by the St. Johns Water Management District. In 1974, the conservation area was designated as a National Natural Landmark.

Florida is home on one-fifth of our country’s wetlands. Protection of these fragile areas is critical. Half of all North American bird species and other endangered animals use wetlands for feeding and nesting. In winter, songbirds, marsh birds and ducks migrate to Emeralda Marsh. Flocks of snowy egrets and sandhill cranes stroll gracefully through the nearby neighborhoods of Harbor Hills. The sturdy branches of our fairway trees provide ample cover and a grand perspective for the occasional bald eagle.

Today, area visitors find an abundance of wetland wildlife as well as boating, hiking and fishing. Open waters are stocked with fish by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Neighbors Butch and Linda Carlson, Dr. Dan Wassell, Dan Kurka and Mark Rhodes are a few of our recreational anglers. Others include Bill Bogert, Barry Palmer, Tom Ingram and Mark Witkop. They have enjoyed fishing the many interconnected lakes of the scenic Harris Chain. Much work has been done to improve our local water quality and restore a thriving habitat for our plant and animal life. For more information, visit floridaswater.com.

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