We had the opportunity today to stop in Big Tree Park and see what has changed since the demise of The Senator. For the year or so that the boardwalk back to the trees was closed to the public, Seminole County – with the help of both the state and federal Forest Service – redeveloped the boardwalk and added a great deal of interpretive information about The Senator and bald cypress trees in general.
The boardwalk – now gated at the beginning – starts off with markers, foot by foot, that give measurements of the height of The Senator related to different points in time in its life.
Reaching The Senator, the charred remains of the grand tree are still there, enough to bring a tear to your eye if you ever saw it in its glory.
Lady Liberty, another massive bald cypress more than 2,000 years old, is at the end of the boardwalk and is now THE Big Tree of Big Tree Park. It was heartening to see visitors come up and look at it in awe.
On the return along the boardwalk, eagle-eyed John spotted not one, not two, but three extremely tall and old tulip poplars. I knew the tulip poplars along the trail system at Spring Hammock Preserve were the southernmost in the United States, but had never noticed these ones before. The understory had been clipped dramatically for the new boardwalk, so it makes them more obvious.
See this tree? It was cloned from The Senator many years ago and brought up in a North Florida nursery. Brought to Big Tree Park last month for the re-dedication, it will someday – 3,480 years from now or so – be as tall and imposing as the Senator once was.
The grounds of the park have been nicely updated with a playground that incorporates a fake cypress trunk to crawl through. The park is again open daily for day use, and serves as a trailhead for the Cross Seminole Trail and the Florida Trail.