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Tag Archives: Ochopee

Famed Photographer Hosts Fundraiser for Big Cypress National Preserve

Gator Hook in the Big Cypress National Preserve. PHOTO BY CLYDE BUTCHER

Submitted Nationally acclaimed wilderness photographer Clyde Butcher, known throughout Florida for his exquisite black and white, large-format photographs of the state’s landscape, and his wife Niki are hosting a fundraiser to benefit the Big Cypress National Preserve’s environmental education program. Scheduled for Saturday, October 31 and Sunday, November 1 from 9 AM to 4 PM at Butcher’s Big Cypress Gallery in the Big Cypress National Preserve in Ochopee, Fla., the weekend’s activities will provide guests with the rare opportunity to meet the husband-and-wife duo and hear stories about their adventures photographing the preserve, take ranger-guided swamp walks and listen to ... Read More »

Gators and Skunk Apes and More, Oh My!

‘Orlando Attractions’ interviews Dave Shealy (on right). SUBMITTED PHOTOS

By Coastal Breeze News Staff Recently, “Orlando Attractions” magazine and show did a segment on the popular 110-acre Gatorland in Central Florida. The show included an interview with our own backyard neighbor, Dave Shealy, leading Skunk Ape researcher from the Skunk Ape Research headquarters in Ochopee. “It was just luck that Dave was there to speak at the same time we were filming,” said Matt Roseboom, publisher/producer of “Orlando Attractions.” “Just days earlier, the receptionist at Gatorland reported receiving several phone calls from guests inside the park saying they were seeing something ‘incredibly unusual’.” The guests at Gatorland spotted what ... Read More »

‘What Happened to Ochopee?’

A future explorer rides the lion that guards the door, 
painted gold in honor of the Golden Lion Motor Inn.

By Melinda Gray Southwest Florida’s history is rich with accounts of rugged pioneers and adventurous prospectors searching for places to settle and on which to build thriving, prosperous enterprises. One such person was James Gaunt. In 1928, Gaunt bought 250 acres of swamp land along the then brand new U.S. 41 and set his sights on farming the land. His produce would be tomatoes, and a thriving Everglades community dubbed Ochopee grew up around Gaunt’s farm. Unfamiliar with Ochopee? Drive east down U.S. 41 towards Miami, and just three miles past the intersection of U.S. 41 and State Road ... Read More »

Art of the Swamp at Big Cypress

Even during the humid months of summer there is much to see and do at Big Cypress National Preserve. Throughout 2014 we’ll be showcasing stunning works of art from a number of Artists-In-Residence who were inspired by the beauty of America’s first national preserve. The Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center is located at 33000 Tamiami Trail East and the Oasis Visitor Center is at 52105 Tamiami Trail East, Ochopee, FL 34141. Both centers are open daily, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Exhibits include, from May through July, “Voices of Big Cypress” a collection of captivating art from a variety of former ... Read More »

New Fire Plans Review and Development Fee Reductions

The Growth Management Division and Board of County Commissioners made huge strides Tuesday in lessening the burden on developers and their customers by reducing fees and speeding up fire plans reviews. With development speed tied to new jobs in the area, fire plan reviews had in some cases delayed projects prompting discussions with fire districts about their impact on economic development. At Tuesday’s BCC meeting, Commissioners approved hiring County fire plans reviewers to assume control over reviews for East Naples, Golden Gate, Isles of Capri, Ochopee and Collier Fire District One. Additionally, the Board approved a $55,000 turn-key office lease with ... Read More »

2014 ORV Advisory Committee Meetings

The 2014 Off-Road Vehicle Advisory Committee meetings for Big Cypress National Preserve will be held on Tuesdays, April 22 and October 7, from 3:30 pm to 8:00 pm. The meetings will be held at the Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center auditorium at 33000 Tamiami Trail East, Ochopee, FL 34141. For more details about the committee meeting agendas and minutes go to – Read More »

Big Cypress Swamp Heritage Festival

By Bob DeGross Big Cypress National Preserve, Chief of Interpretation and Public Affairs Join us on December 7, 2013, from 10 AM to 4:00 PM at the Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center as we celebrate the history and culture of South Florida for the third annual Swamp Heritage Festival. The welcome center is located at 33000 Tamiami Trail East, Ochopee, FL 34141, three miles east of State Road 29 on U. S. 41, the Tamiami Trail. This FREE family-friendly event shines a spotlight upon the history of this rugged, yet beautiful environment through a variety of storytellers, musicians, local experts, ... Read More »

AMIKids Big Cypress: Turning Boys into Men


By Natalie Strom Everyone deserves a second chance; a fresh start; a clean slate. At AMIKids Big Cypress, at-risk male youths are offered just that. Teens are sent to the program for anywhere from six months to a year depending on their juvenile criminal history. Rather than treating these boys as criminals, they are shown love and compassion and are given the chance to learn real world skills and how to be a part of a team. The program turns boys into young men. On January 10, two of these young men graduated from the program. The ceremony was ... Read More »

Making a go of it in the Glades


By Natalie Strom Over a century ago, families traveled to Southwest Florida, pioneering the harsh environment and extreme temperature to forge a new life. Everglades City is one of the oldest settlements of these pioneer towns, along with Chokoloskee and Ochopee. Built on trading and raised on fishing, these quiet towns still hold allure to young families looking to make a go of it in the Glades. No stranger to the stories of the pioneer days, Jack Shealy is a third generation Ochopee native. His family has been in Southwest Florida even longer. “We settled down here in the ... Read More »

Goodland USPS Under Review

By Natalie Strom The United States Postal Service has implemented a new system called the POST Plan to better align its service with customer demand. In order to do this, a review of nearly 14,000 Post Offices is taking place throughout the country and the Goodland Post Office is on that list. Those who have P.O. Boxes at the Goodland Post Office recently received a letter outlining possible changes to Postal service within the community. As the letter stated, “The Goodland Post Office was among the offices evaluated under the POST Plan criteria. The Postal Service is now soliciting ... Read More »

Our artful lives

ART UNCOVERED Tara O’Neill “Times are a-changing.” Well, for me, anyway…and, technically, for the thousands of devoted readers of Art Uncovered. Art Uncovered is finished. Kaput. No mas. The fat lady is singing her head off. Last one, right here. After fifty-two issues, I am putting to rest the vehicle that made me a literary superstar. The original mission of Art Uncovered was simple and sincere: to share with you the exceptional, lesser-known, artists, art venues and events, that grace our artful coast. Together we met talented artists (of which there are so many) who maybe didn’t have the wherewithal for ... Read More »

Exploring the real Everglades

BUZZ FROM THE SWAMP  Patricia Huff Clyde Butcher’s Big Cypress Gallery will hold its annual Labor Day Weekend Swamp Walks from Friday, September 1, through Monday, September 3. Every year I write about the excitement of “walking” in the swamp, the only way to really experience the true Everglades (up close and personal). During the winter season, we have many opportunities throughout south Florida to take a walk in the swamp. If you’ve never gotten your feet wet or ever had a fear of doing so, taking a “guided” tour behind the Big Cypress Gallery in Ochopee is the best ... Read More »

Take a Couple of Trips with Us

The Marco island Historical Society is pleased to announce that a reception for a new exhibit will be held at our museum from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. on Tuesday, July 3, taking the place of our regular monthly meeting. The wine and cheese party will introduce our latest show: Quilts of the Tamiami Trail. This remarkable collection highlights the opening of the historic highway from Tampa to Miami in 1928, and includes scenes ranging from Domino Park in Miami’s Little Havana to the smallest post office in the country at Ochopee. It will focus on much of Florida’s remaining wilderness in ... Read More »

Hit the trails

PEDAL IN PARADISE By Matt Walthour School will be out soon and you are possibly thinking, what can we do with the kids this summer? Or maybe you are just looking for something to do with a friend or significant other, but then again being alone might sound like fun, too. As a cyclist, many of the trips I take somehow or other a bicycle becomes involved. Call me crazy, but I enjoy bicycle riding, whether it’s a casual cruise around the Keys or a longer ride on the Pinellas Trail in the Tampa Bay area. I just enjoy the ... Read More »

Big snake found in Big Cypress

By Natalie Strom The Skunk Ape Research Center in Ochopee, Florida has added a fascinating new piece to its collection of weird and wild. Stop at the research center and camp ground on US-41 to see and feel the skin of a 20-foot reticulated python. According to David Shealy, owner of the Skunk Ape Exhibit, the reticulated python “was found on US-41 and Burns Road, which is located in the Big Cypress Reserve, about two-and-a-half miles from our shop here. The snake was found by a hunter on the side of the road and it was assumed the snake ... Read More »

Learn about the Monroe Station & the Trail

When the Tamiami Trail was completed across the Everglades in 1928, Barron Collier set up six patrol stations along the road to help motorists. One of these historic buildings is Monroe Station, once a popular wayside stop in the desolate Big Cypress east of Ochopee. It became a popular meeting place for hunters who still leave their trucks there when negotiating the Loop Road on swamp buggies. The building has been closed and boarded up for many years but it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You can hear about the history of Monroe Station, the gladesman culture that favored it, ... Read More »

Crab season opening soon and Everglades City celebrates the blessing of the fleet

Patricia Huff Excitement comes to Everglades City when stone crab season opens every year on October 15! Last Sunday we started the celebration with the 3rd annual “Blessing of the Fleet.” Local fishermen and their families arrived at the Rod & Gun Club on their crab boats as visitors and residents welcomed them with applause and local children lined the dock with rose petals. Pastor John Gilmore from Copeland Baptist Mission, Pastor Morris Dantin from Chokoloskee Church of God, and Pastor Jim Fross from the Everglades Baptist Church blessed each vessel, praying for their safety. Earlier in the afternoon there ... Read More »