Viera, FL wetlands offer photos, wildlife watching for visitors
Photographers, bird watchers and nature enthusiasts are flocking to the Grissom Memorial Wetlands near Melbourne, FL by the thousands.
It offers visitors the opportunity to view nature including birds, wildlife and some huge alligators, from the safety of their automobile. The more adventuresome visitors can walk the unpaved roads that crisscross the preserve but visitors should consider (see below FOR THE RECORD) staying close to the car when viewing or photographing the sights. We were surprised to find people walking their dog along the dirt berm roads. Alligators frequently lounge in the sun alongside the roads.
HOW IT GOT HERE:
The preserve is a 200-acre constructed wetland system of reclaimed water from a nearby Brevard County sewage treatment plant. It consists of four 35 acre cells and a central lake.
HOW TO GET HERE:
From Interstate 95, take exit 191 and proceed west for approximately 2.5 miles. Proceed past the treatment facility and follow the signs to the wetlands. The storage ponds, known locally as the Dan “Click” ponds, can be reached by turning north onto Power Line road before reaching the main wetlands. Drive past the Duda Sod Farm.
The Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands were included in the Great Florida Birding Trail in 2008.
There is no admission charge although visitors are encouraged to make a donation to help with the preservation effort.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Over 210,000 people visit the wetlands annually.
FOR THE RECORD:
The following is a Facebook post I made in April 2016 of my “hair raising” experience with one of the wetlands’ alligators:
“I was facing the opposite direction focusing on a cormorant feeding its new born triplets when my wife yelled at the top of her lungs to “get in the car.” I turned around just in time to see this eight (?) feet long alligator come out of the head high reeds behind me and heading across the road to another pond about 15 feet away. The path he chose was straight at me. He was about twelve feet away and up on all fours and moving my direction when I jumped into the car, slammed the door, then realized I had left the camera on the tripod in front of the car. Alligators, according to legend, can easily outrun a person, particularly if cornered. Since I was standing between the alligator and the adjacent pond, he was no doubt cornered. I exited the car, hit the quick release on the tripod and while standing alongside with one foot inside the car, snapped this picture just as the alligator picked up speed before sliding down the bank and into the pond. All this excitement occurred at Grissom Memorial Wetlands north of Melbourne at Viera where we had gone to photograph nesting birds. Go figure.