Off extreme northwestern Citrus County, just south of the mouth of the Withlacoochee River and extending southwest about 4.6 miles (7.5 km) into the Gulf of Mexico from the entrance to the Cross-Florida Barge Canal; includes tidat flats surrounding mouth of Withlacoochee River and Yankeetown boat ramp. Nearly contiguous with the Big Bend Ecosystem IBA to the north, and with the Crystal River Marshes IBA to the south.
Land area is comprised of at least 11 dredge-spoil islands created when part of the now-decommissioned Cross-Florida Barge Canal was constructed, adjacent oyster rakes, and mudflats. The islands range in size from 0.5 to 60 acres (0.2-24 hectares) and were created between 1964 and 1967. They are composed primarily of coarse limestone rubble, with fine-grained sediments and sand on the outer islands. Islands nearer to the mainland are taller (up to 16.5 feet [5 m]) and longer (up to 0.75 miles [1.2 km]) than the others. The Barge Canal was deauthorized by the U.S. Congress in 1986, and the islands now are part of the Cross Florida Greenway State Recreation and Conservation Area. The number of recreationists who visit the islands annually is not known.
Some of the islands support significant breeding populations of shorebirds, and formerly supported significant breeding populations of larids. Only a rudimentary bird list is available.
Bird use is primarily restricted to the westernmost four or five islands, while human use is concentrated on the islands closer to the mainland. There have been attempts to close some islands as bird nesting sites, but these have been ineffective. The degree of human disturbance on the birds is unknown. ? Breeding productivity is monitored semi-annually by Audubon of Florida and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Given the importance of these islands to American Oystercatchers and other sensitive beach-nesting species, stronger efforts should be made to protect the breeding islands from human disturbance and erosion.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Florida Office of Greenways and Trails
artificial (dredged-material islands), tidal marsh