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Orlando Wetlands Park is more than just another pretty place
When you flush your toilet or turn your tap, be sure to thank the Orlando Wetlands Park.
The 1,650-acre property in Christmas in east Orange County used to be a cattle pasture. Then the city of Orlando purchased the land for $5.1 million in 1986 to help treat wastewater on a larger scale in response to population growth and the Clean Water Act of 1972.
Volunteer Bob Rope worked with the city of Orlando when the Orlando Wetlands Park was completed in 1987 and advocated for the wetlands to not only function as a water-filtration system, but also as a park open to the public.
“It could have been totally fenced. The purpose of it is to clean up sewage, and so to some people it’s like, ‘Why would you make a park out of that?'” Rope says.
Today, an estimated 15,000 visitors flock to the park annually to utilize the 20 miles of trails for bird-watching, cycling, running, horseback riding, photography or simply enjoying a change of scenery.
Though the park is just 27 miles from downtown, it feels far away from the hustle of living in a city as sprawling as Orlando.
“The advantage is you can get to the natural wetlands area without traveling so far,” says Jack Rogers, a Valencia College professor of environmental science and nature photographer who recently instructed a group of 12 nature photographers as a fundraiser for the Orange Audubon Society.
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