Al-Bar Ranch, 1656 ha
Cross Bar Ranch Wellfield, 3209 ha
Cypress Creek Flood Detention Area, 2989 ha
Pasco One SOR project, 11891 ha

In central Pasco County, bordered roughly by the Hernando County line to the north, County Road 581 to the east, State Road 52, State Road 54, or County Road 583 variously to the south, and U.S. Highway 41 to the west.

A large area of existing conservation areas separated by ranches sought for public acquisition. The Cross Bar and Cypress Creek sites are wellfields that supply more than 35 million gallons (132 million liters) of water per day to the residents of the Tampa Bay area. The private ranches support cattle grazing and silviculture. Cypress Creek Flood Detention Area receives 2000 recreationists annually; limited, guided public access to Al-Bar Ranch and Cross Bar Ranch Wellfield is available. Except for land use, all data for this IBA refer solely to Al-Bar Ranch and Cross Bar Ranch Wellfield. Little information was provided for Cypress Creek Flood Detention Area.

Ownership: Southwest Florida Water Management District (Cypress Creek Flood Detention Area), Pinellas County Utilities (Al-Bar Ranch and Cross Bar Ranch Wellfield), and private owners (acreage of the Pasco One SOR Project; to be owned by the Southwest Florida Water Management District if acquired publicly)

Ornithological Summary

This IBA supports significant populations of Florida Sandhill Cranes and an isolated population of Florida Scrub-Jays. The scrub-jay population is threatened severely by development and habitat succession, but restoration efforts have begun on the Pinellas County properties. This IBA may also support significant numbers of Burrowing Owls, and temperate hammocks are used by Neotropical migrants. Overall diversity is at least 160 native species.

Additional Data:
Diversity, Sep 2000 list - 154 natives, 4 exotics

Conservation Issues

*development, *habitat succession, *groundwater extraction, human disturbance, exotic plants, feral hogs

The Florida Scrub-Jay population within this IBA is the second-largest on the Gulf coast. Most of the oak habitat in the IBA has succeeded to xeric hammock, which has forced the jays to move into sub-optimal habitats such as gallberry thickets and saw palmetto flats. The long-term persistence of Florida Scrub-Jays at Al-Bar Ranch is a goal of Pinellas County Utilities, which has restored nearly 400 acres (161 hectares) of scrub using mechanical and fire treatments on ?young? hammocks. Al-Bar Ranch may be able to support 12?15 scrub-jay groups after habitat restoration is complete, but this number falls short of the 30 groups that are considered a viable population. At least 20 other scrub-jay groups occur on the private ranches, where their habitats are not being managed properly. ? Central Pasco County is under intense development pressure from urban sprawl to the west and south. Nearly half of this IBA (in two separate parcels) is publicly owned, but four large ranches and a few smaller tracts, which total over 27,000 acres (10,926 hectares), remain unprotected. The private lands are part of the Pasco One SOR Project of the Southwest Florida Water Management District, but no acreage has yet been acquired. If acquired in its entirety, the Pasco One SOR Project would link Cross Bar Wellfield with Cypress Creek Wellfield, and would create a 75-square-mile (192-square km) conservation area in the center of Pasco County. Loss of the ranches to development will destroy this link, and will isolate both wellfields by surrounding them with thousands of houses. The southernmost ranch in the IBA, which comprises 8000 acres (3237 hectares), was permitted by the Pasco County Commission in July 2000 for transformation into a 27-year planned development containing over 30,000 houses and 4 million square feet (360,000 square meters) of office space. (However, negotiations bet

Ownership

Southwest Florida Water Management District (Cypress Creek Flood Detention Area), Pinellas County Utilities (Al-Bar Ranch and Cross Bar Ranch Wellfield), and private owners (acreage of the Pasco One SOR Project; to be owned by the Southwest Florida Water Management District if acquired publicly)

Habitat

*pine plantation, *sandhills, *temperate hammock, *pasture, *cypress swamp, *grassy depressions (former wetlands), lacustrine, longleaf pine flatwoods, xeric oak scrub, fields, hardwood swamp, bayhead, freshwater marsh, artificial

Land Use

*conservation, *timber production, *grazing, *water supply, *private (planned developments), recreation, hunting, agriculture, sludge disposal