The City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department (PRCA) is happy to announce that seasonal passes to enjoy the Sweetwater Wetlands Park are now available. The seasonal pass costs $25, and is valid from May through September 2015. The pass can be affixed to a car windshield, and may be transferred to another vehicle. Bicyclists or pedestrians that purchase a seasonal pass will need to carry it on them for admission. Passes are available for purchase in person at the PRCA Administrative Office, Thomas Center, Building B, 3rd Floor, 306 NE Sixth Ave., Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-6 pm. Sweetwater Wetlands Park, also known as the Paynes Prairie Sheetflow Restoration, is now open to the public on holidays, Saturday and Sundays from 7 a.m. to sunset. There entry fee is $5 per vehicle or $2 for pedestrians and bicyclists. The park is located at 325 SW Williston Road. For directions, a map can be viewed at https://goo.gl/maps/bK9YN.
Sweetwater Wetlands Park is not only a place to connect with nature, it's a way to protect our environment. The park, which consists of more than 125 acres of wetlands and ponds, was created to improve the water quality of wetlands in Paynes Prairie and the Floridan Aquifer. This unique park features more than 3.5 miles of trails and boardwalks that overlook a thriving created wetlands environment on the north side of the Paynes Prairie State Preserve. Visitors will find a wide variety of native plants, birds, butterflies, alligators and even the occasional Florida cracker horse.
In 2009, the Paynes Prairie Sheetflow Restoration Project began as a way to reduce pollution to Alachua Sink by restoring the prairie's natural sheetflow and creating a wetland habitat. The final goal was to create an environmentally-friendly park, filled with plants and animals that allows people to connect with and learn about nature. Gainesville Regional Utilities and the City of Gainesville Department of Public Works completed the wetlands in 2015 and the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department maintains and operates the trails and public space.
This seasonal pass is valid from May through September 2015. During budget discussions this summer, the Gainesville City Commission will make decisions about the cost of an annual (October-September) pass and whether or not the park will be open seven days a week.
For more information, please contact Linda Demetropoulos, nature operations manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-393-8445. For more information on the park and its development, please visit www.sweetwaterwetlands.org.