State Land Scrub and Sandhill Restoration
   David Johnson, State Land Scrub and Sandhill Restoration

Abstract: Proper and timely management of scrub and sandhill habitats with prescribed fire is critical to their ability to support native wildlife species (CWCS pp.297-298, 303). Unfortunately, many public properties containing these habitats, including several FWC-managed properties, are in need of restoration due to past management before public ownership and the difficulties of fire management due to recent and prolonged drought conditions across the state. In many cases, long-term fire suppression has resulted in hardwood and sand pine encroachment of these habitats, which requires costly mechanical and chemical treatments in order to safely and effectively restore fire as a management tool. If fire is not returned to these habitats on regular intervals, sandhill and scrub habitats eventually succeed into mature hardwood or sand pine communities, which provide relatively little wildlife value (Myers, 1990). To remove encroaching vegetation to facilitate safe and effective fire restoration and promote the growth of native groundcover on four FWC-managed properties for the benefit of the gopher tortoise and other fire-associated SGCN species. To restore 1333 acres of sandhill and scrub habitat on FWC lands using land management practices that restore ecosystem structure and function. This project is expected to benefit wildlife and priority wildlife habitat in the following ways: (1)Complete or partial restoration of 1333 acres of sandhill and scrub on FWC-managed lands in Florida; (2)The reintroduction of fire as a natural and ecosystem-sustaining management tool on these tracts; (3)Increase plant diversity and increase habitat for the gopher tortoise and other sandhill and scrub-associated species; (4)Increase the extent of contiguous and viable sandhill and scrub habitat available for wildlife on public lands in the state; (5)Improve long-term resilience of sandhill and scrub habitat and associated wildlife on Florida’s public lands to natural and catastrophic events, including climate change. This project seeks to increase the amount of sandhill and scrub that are appropriately managed for wildlife in the state on four FWC-managed properties: Apalachee WMA, Big Bend WMA, Guana River WMA, and Lake Wales Ridge WEA. The requested funds will primarily be used for mechanical and chemical removal of overgrown vegetation to facilitate the safe and effective use of prescribed fire as a management tool and the recovery of native groundcover species. Some of the requested funds will also be used to directly support fire and other management activities by partially supporting an OPS position. Some funds will be used to purchase and plant wiregrass for the purposes of groundcover restoration and fire reintroduction. Matching state funds from FWC’s gopher tortoise mitigation program will also be used to support project activities on project focal properties.

Award Matching Funds Total
$91,267.00 $91,267.00 $182,534.00

Year Funded Starting Date Ending Date
2009 1/15/2010 12/31/2013

Location: Statewide