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Teaching and research conducted within the University of Central Florida’s natural lands is encouraged. Through site use permits, the protection of biological resources on campus is accomplished. Permits allow us to minimize conflicts between users, to prevent unsuitable uses, and to coordinate projects with management activities. In addition, as part of the stewardship of the natural areas on campus, teaching and research activities utilizing the campus are documented through the site use permits. Anyone wanting to use the campus natural areas for teaching or research is asked to fill out the appropriate form below and submit it, via email, as soon as possible.
Please review the general use rules & permitting process and fill out the appropriate Site Use Application (see links below). Processing time usually takes between 2-3 weeks, but can extend past this time frame for research and education projects requesting to use a “prohibited area”. Therefore, it is best to fill out an application as early as possible to allow ample processing time. Please e-mail us to submit questions or comments.
UCF encourages visitors to hike and bike the five trails, play the disc-golf course, picnic in the Oak Hammock or relax in the Nature Pavilion, all located on campus. The UCF Natural Lands and Lake Claire Loop Trail are open from sunrise to sunset every day. Please enjoy these beautiful areas and take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints.
The four trails located in the Natural Areas total three miles and take our visitors through four unique Florida habitats. The Cypress Trail (0.71 miles) encircles a magnificent cypress dome, while adjacent to that the Transition Trail (0.32 miles) winds through the beautiful Oak Hammock, a great place to meet with friends or quietly study. The Fire Loop (0.81 miles) and the Wildflower Loop (1.17 miles) guide our visitors through two different types of flatwoods, pine and scrubby, where both plants and animals can be observed regularly in their natural environments. The fifth trail takes hikers around Lake Claire (1.4 miles) for a full loop, allowing for start and finish at the Lake Claire Recreational Area. There are two look-out points on the trail where picnicing or relaxing with a book would be ideal, as well a a secret dock.
The 9-hole UCF disc golf course offers a fun and educational experience for recreational players. Each tee has a learning station, including a map of the course and facts about the local environment. The black-and-gold disc-golf mats are made from recycled tires, a subtle example of UCF’s commitment to sustainability. Please protect the natural areas by throwing away trash in the bins provided throughout the course and respecting wildlife.
The disc golf course was reduced to 9-holes for several reasons:
- The land that the course is on is a conservation area, so the protection of the species and habitats is a priority. The 18-hole course created issues, as the fairways were surrounded by dense palmetto – players frequently lost their disc in these areas and created unwanted disturbance in searching for their lost disc;
- We had a lot of complaints about the course, so we adjusted it based on the feedback we received;
- The purpose of the course was not to build a competition course, but to create an opportunity for our students to learn the game of disc-golf. We intentionally made it 9-holes, so that participants could play two rounds, if desired, to achieve 18-holes.
Click here for the Disc Golf Map
Located on the east side of the University of Central Florida campus in Orlando, the 82 acre Arboretum includes seven distinct native plant communities representative of Central Florida’s diverse natural ecosystem. At the Arboretum, you will visit various habitats including a pond pine community, a mixed hardwood hammock, an ephemeral pond, an oak hammock, a sand scrub, a cypress dome, all mixed in a pine flatwood matrix. There are 8 caches hidden in this area. Please visit http://www.geocaching.com/ and map search for 32816 to begin your hunt!
For Geocaching beginners, check out Geocaching – A Complete Guide
UCF’s tranquil Oak Hammock located in the Natural Area is a great place to meet with friends to study or just quietly relax and read a book. The enormous oak trees in this habitat provide a unique microclimate with shade and a pleasant, cool environment to enjoy the outdoors. Yoga classes are offered in the Oak Hammock periodically during the Fall and Spring semesters.
Please visit Recreation and Wellness’ website for information on nature yoga classes offered in the Oak Hammock.
The Natural Resources Pavilion
The natural resources pavilion accents the south entrance to the 40 acre Arboretum Natural Areas, and provides information about recreational opportunities in the green space on campus. The pavilion is also open to UCF employees, students and the public sunrise to sunset. The building was made from recycled materials and its surface edges are pervious concrete, which means storm-water drains through it, instead of resting on top of it. Most recently a photovoltaic solar energy harnessing system was installed in the pavilion along with fully functioning and solar run electrical outlets, ceiling fans and lights. The pavilion is available to rent throughout the year to UCF affiliates, and during football season for Gold Zone donors. To request this space, please e-mail us.
Florida Wildfire Facts
* Florida has a 12-month wildfire season but the spring is usually the most active part of the year.
* Wildfires burn an average of 100,000 acres a year across the state.
* Although lightning starts a large number of wildfires in the spring months, arson and escaped debris burning cause the highest number of wildfires annually.
* Recent hurricane activity has resulted in a large number of downed trees and dead vegetation that adds to the wildfire danger.
* Most green plants contain a lot of water that help prevent them from igniting, however, Florida has vegetation that contains volatile chemicals that can create a very intense wildfire even when the plants are green.
* When a wildfire occurs, the weather is the most common reason for the fire to spread and intensify.
* The sea breeze is one of the most critical weather features that firefighters must deal with in Florida wildfires.
* Sea Breezes can bring shifting winds and changes in temperatures and humidity that may negatively impact firefighting operations and cause fire spread and intensification.
Make sure you know your local regulations regarding debris burning and check with your local Forest Service office before lighting any fires.
For Our Neighbors
Human environmental impact in the UCF natural lands has been increasing over the last several years. We would like to work with our neighbors to develop better land management systems to protect the unique plants and animals living on the UCF property. Please report any suspicious behavior or actions to the police by calling (407) 823-5555 for an immediate response, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to provide information or submit a general question. Help protect the research, recreation, and health of the environment by not participating in and reporting prohibited activities.
• ATVs, dirt bikes or use of any motorized vehicles
• Lighting fires, including camp fires
• Dumping of any trash, including yard waste
• Hunting, fishing, and camping