Belcher Mines Park, 80 ha;
Fillman Bayou Preserve, 245 ha;
Robert K. Rees County Park, 21 ha;
Key Vista Nature Park, 41 ha;
Robert Crown Wilderness Area, 141 ha;
Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary property, 121 ha;
Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park, 1490 ha;

Several sites between the Gulf of Mexico and U.S. Highway 19 in western Pasco County. Near the Chassahowitzka?Weekiwachee IBA to the north, and the Gulf Islands GEOpark IBA to the west.

Virtually all remaining tidal and adjacent upland habitats in Pasco County, one of the fastest-growing counties in Florida. Most sites are tidal marshes, although some contain temperate hammocks and other uplands. Fortunately, most of the sites within this IBA are owned by a public or conservation agency. Werner?Boyce Salt Springs State Park and adjacent properties preserve a large coastal area in the Bayonet Point?Port Richey area. Belcher Mines Park has no public access.

There are a number of Indian middens along the coast (especially around Bailey's Bluff), but those on private lands have been (or eventually will be) developed, and those at Key Vista Nature Park have been subjected to looting for several years. ? Part of this IBA has been designated by +Cox et al. (1994) as a Strategic Habitat Conservation Area.

Ornithological Summary

Varied habitats within this IBA support several groups of coastal birds. Most important by far are the extensive needlerush marshes that contain breeding populations of Marsh Wrens and Seaside Sparrows, and presumably a breeding population of Black Rails. These marshes represent the southernmost breeding areas known for these three species along the Gulf coast of Florida. The sizes of the populations are not known, but cursory surveys indicate that all are significant. Clapper Rails are common year-round. Extensive mudflats at low tide support large numbers of wading birds, shorebirds, and larids. Mangroves support breeding Gray Kingbirds and ?Florida? Prairie Warblers. In May 2001, large numbers of Neotropical migrants, primarily wood-warblers, were found at Green Key, and this site supported large flocks of Yellow-rumped Warblers in November 2001.

Conservation Issues

Development of some of the unprotected sites is a severe threat; 500 acres (201 hectares) of mixed sand pine scrub and sandhill immediately east of Key Vista Nature Park were destroyed in mid?2000 for a new subdivision. The 400-acre (161-hectare) Mickler Ranch, immediately south of this site, and the last significant upland property in coastal southwestern Pasco County, was sold in October 2001 to a developer who intends to build 800 homes. (A Florida Forever proposal in 2001 to preserve some of the coastal sites in Pasco County was not accepted). ? The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has attempted to purchase 600-acre (242-hectare) site south of Green Key, but the owner (a developer), refused to sell; the ultimate disposition of the property uncertain.

Ownership

Florida Department of Environmental Protection (Werner?Boyce Salt Springs State Park, Robert Crown Wilderness Area), Pasco County Parks and Recreation Department (Key Vista Nature Park, Robert K. Rees County Park), City of New Port Richey (Robert K. Rees County Park), The Nature Conservancy (Fillman Bayou Preserve), and private owners (remaining sites).

Habitat

*mangrove forest, *tidal marsh, *estuarine, slash pine flatwoods, sandhills, temperate hammock, xeric oak scrub, sand pine scrub, cypress swamp, freshwater marsh, cattail marsh, sawgrass marsh, riverine, lacustrine, artificial beach, salt barrens, artificial

Stay abreast of Audubon

Our email newsletter shares the latest programs and initiatives.