Important Bird Areas

Camp Blanding-Jennings

Florida

Camp Blanding Training Site, 29573 ha
Jennings State Forest, 8323 ha
In western Clay County from the Duval County line south to State Road 21 near Keystone Heights, west to the Bradford County line.
This IBA is located in the southern end of the Trail Ridge physiographic region, consisting mostly on well-drained, rolling topography. Camp Blanding Training Site is an active artillery-training area for the Florida Army National Guard, buffered by extensive forested areas altered for forestry and military uses. Camp Blanding Training Site receives 200 recreationists and 15,000 hunter-days annually, while annual use of Jennings State Forest is >500 recreationists and 1000 hunter-days annually.

Ornithological Summary

Camp Blanding Training Site: significant populations of Endangered species; complete avian diversity of longleaf pine flatwoods; and significant natural habitats. Jennings State Forest: significant populations of Threatened and Watch List species; and significant natural habitats.

Both areas contain extensive areas of longleaf pine flatwoods and sandhills. Camp Blanding contains, or contained, the northernmost Florida Scrub-Jays in the state, with a single group known in 1995. Only a rudimentary bird list is available.

Conservation Issues

Camp Blanding Training Site: *strip mining. Jennings State Forest: *offsite development, *feral hogs, human disturbance, exotic plants, habitat succession

Camp Blanding Training Site: Strip-mining of some Red-cockaded Woodpecker sites is presently being considered. ? Fire management and mechanical restoration should continue in longleaf pine flatwoods to increase the number of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and other species. +Hipes and Jackson (1996) characterized woodpecker habitat as in ?marginal to poor? condition, due to hardwood encroachment. ? Over 40 nest boxes for ?Southeastern? American Kestrels have been placed. ? Most of the Florida Scrub-Jay habitat has been cleared for development of the military base, with the remainder being ?severely overgrown? in the mid-1990s +(Hipes and Jackson 1996). Only a single scrub-jay group has been seen recently, at Kingsley Lake (the northernmost group remaining in Florida), with apparently no possibility of maintaining a viable population in the region. ? ?... [D]espite decades of past land management practices that often have been incompatible with the maintenance of native communities, Camp Blanding Training Site nonetheless retains a significant component of biodiversity native to this region. With the adoption of more ecologically sensitive land management, positive strides can be made to restore native habitats and replenish depleted populations. If successful, this in turn will increase the future importance of Camp Blanding as a vital link in an integrated and functional network of ecosystems throughout the north Florida?south Georgia region.? +(Hipes and Jackson 1996). Acquisition of Jennings State Forest began in 1991. The five-year Resource Management Plan currently is up for review. Conservation issues include returning fire as a management tool, restoring longleaf pine flatwoods and sandhills, restoring the hydrology, and maintaining water quality. ? The Forest contains 6000 (2428 hectares) acres of flatwoods and a similar amount of sandhills, which are under ?aggressive? restoration via prescribed fire, removing sand pine and slash pine from some sites, and by replanting longleaf pine. ? Red-cockaded Woodpeckers have been extirpated from the Forest since the 1960s or earlier, but as the longleaf pine forests age, there is excellent potential for translocation, or natural colonization from Camp Blanding.

Ownership

Florida Department of Military Affairs (Camp Blanding Training Site), Florida Division of Forestry and St. Johns River Water Management District (Jennings State Forest)

Habitat

Camp Blanding Training Site: *longleaf pine flatwoods, *pine plantation, *sandhills, *xeric oak scrub, *lacustrine, sand pine scrub, fields, hardwood swamp, bayhead, freshwater marsh, riverine, artificial. Jennings State Forest: *longleaf pine flatwoods, *pine plantation, *sandhills, *bayhead, *riverine, temperate hammock, non-native pasture, hardwood swamp, freshwater marsh, lacustrine

Land Use

Camp Blanding Training Site: *military training, sand mining, timber production, conservation, hunting. Jennings State Forest: *conservation, recreation, hunting, timber production

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