SRWMD Sandhill Restoration
   Bob Heeke, SRWMD

Abstract: SRWMD is currently in the process of restoring sandhill habitats on several of their upland properties in northern Florida. However, while this agency has funding for some aspects of this project (hardwood reduction, tree planting), it currently lacks funding for groundcover restoration on several tracts of land. Florida’s sandhill habitats, and the wildlife and plant species that depend on them, require frequent fire. However, much of the sandhill habitat on the Adams and Ruth Springs tracts and other nearby SRWMD tracts have lost the native grasses and other groundcover species necessary to carry fire through these habitats due to hardwood encroachment and the incompatible land uses of previous landowners (planted pine plantations). Without the ecosystem-sustaining action of frequent fires, many of these habitats have become degraded and unsuitable for native wildlife species. The main goal of this project is to restore degraded sandhill areas of SRWMD’s Adams and Ruth Springs tracts. This project will provide the funds for the groundcover restoration of 207 acres of sandhill habitat in partnership with SRWMD’s efforts to remove encroaching hardwoods and replant longleaf pine on these tracts. Over time this project will restore both wildlife habitat for sandhill-associated SGCN and other species, as well as the ecosystem function of these tracts within the landscape. This project will also provide for the reintroduction of fire to these tracts through the reestablishment of natural groundcover fuels.This project will increase the amount of high-quality sandhill habitat in the state that is appropriately managed by fire. Specifically, the wiregrass restoration will provide the necessary ecosystem component to return fire to these lands. Over time this project will provide increased habitat for numerous sandhill-associated wildlife species and fire-adapted upland species, including the following SGCN species: gopher tortoise, indigo snake, Florida mouse, Sherman’s fox squirrel, and the northern bobwhite quail (among many others). This project will also increase the connectivity of quality public and private sandhill habitats along the Suwannee River.

Award Matching Funds Total
$36,647.00 $36,647.00 $73,294.00

Year Funded Starting Date Ending Date
2008 1/1/2009 9/30/2010

Location: Statewide