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Wings Over Water: Free festival to be held at Harns Marsh

February 19, 2014
By MEL TOADVINE ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

There's something special going on in Lehigh on Friday, Feb. 28 and Saturday, March 1. It's the third annual Wings Over Water (WOW) and it is being sponsored by the East County Water Control District and will be at what has become Lehigh's secret gem, Harns Marsh.

That's the word put out today by ECWCD Manager David Lindsay who said in promotional material that the two-day festival is set to help people celebrate Southwest Florida's natural resources and includes presentations from experts, an array of exhibits from local organizations, children's activities, food, guided walks and a rubber duck race.

And the best of all is that it is free of charge and no fee to park.

Article Photos

Sandhill cranes at Harns Marsh.

It all starts with a guided nature walk through Harns Marsh. Anyone who has not been there will be surprised to see this part of Lehigh that is maintained by the ECWCD.

David Lindsay, ECWCD manager, will talk about the future plans and development of Harns Marsh and the West Marsh following the guided nature walk.

More things to do at Harns Marsh, and again free to the public, resume on Saturday morning, March 1 when activities begin at 9 a.m. and continue to noon.

Lindsay said experts on various wildlife subjects will offer lectures and talks and there will be education-related organizations and businesses; children's activities, guided walks and viewing of various species of flora and fauna.

In a handout to the public, speakers for the day include people like Dr. Jerry Jackson, an author and editor of 24 books and more than 300 articles in the professional and popular literature. His book, In Search of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, was published by Smithsonian Books in 2004 and appeared in a second edition in May of 2004. His expertise focuses on forest and coastal ecosystems, bird management issues associated with aviation and the history of ornithology.

Listeners of National Public Radio in Fort Myers are familiar with Jackson as he is often heard on the air.

Also participating will be Mike Matthews. He will help visitors really discover the beauty of Southwest Florida through the lens of a professional nature photographer. Matthews has been taking pictures for more than 40 years and loves to teach others how they can also take great photographs.

Jeff Klinkenberg, also an author of several books, including Alligators in B-Flat, Pilgrim in the Land of Alligators, Seasons of Real Florida and Dispatches from the Land of Flowers, will offer his expertise on the state's culture and lands.

The promotional materials also feature Steve "Snakeman" Masek who will introduce guests to a variety of Florida's native and invasive animals. According to a flyer, he will feature live pythons and lizards commonly captured in the local area, things such as the Burmese python, lizards and other animals.

Something new this year, promoters say that Dr. Jackson, mentioned above, will also host a bird walk through Harns Marsh from 8 to 9 a.m. before the official start of the festival. Admission free and space is limited.

You would be wise to make a reservation for this special bird walk. Go online to:

Lastly, but not the least, promotional material notes that the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce will conduct the second annual WOW festival Duck Races and those who come can purchase a duck to enter into the race and can also enter a duck decorating contest.

You can get more information on the duck races by going online, too, at:

If you get hungry on Saturday, March 1, Lehigh Acres Community Initiative will be manning a snack shack. Money earned during the day will help their community projects.

Lehigh residents who don't know where Harns Marsh is will be surprised just how close it is to the main area of Lehigh,

From Lee Blvd., drive north on Sunshine Blvd and turn left on Olive and then turn left on 38th St. and it will take you straight into the marsh where parking is provided.



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