Crystal River State Buffer Preserve, 14652 ha;
St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve, 9357 ha;

Located in western Citrus County, encompassing most of the area west of U.S. Highway 19 between the Withlacoochee River and Homosassa Springs. Contiguous with the Chassahowitzka? Weekiwachee IBA to the south, and near the Citrus County Spoil Islands IBA to the north.

An area of extensive tidal marshes that, together with the Chassahowitzka?Weekiwachee IBA, preserves nearly the entire coastlines of Citrus and Hernando counties. The Buffer Preserve receives 23,000 recreationists annually, while the Aquatic Preserve receives 15,000 recreationists.

The Aquatic Preserve is an Outstanding Florida Water. ? 232 cultural sites have been identified, which are spread around one of the largest and most southern ceremonial burial grounds of the Mississippian culture. ? Part of this IBA has been designated by +Cox et al. (1994) as a Strategic Habitat Conservation Area.

Ornithological Summary

Extensive tidal marshes probably support significant populations of Clapper Rails, Marsh Wrens, and Seaside Sparrows, and may also support a large population of Black Rails. A plan to introduce a migratory population of Whooping Cranes, which will winter in the area, began in December 2001. Studies of food availability for the cranes were conducted at the Aquatic Preserve. Quarterly bird monitoring has been conducted since October 1996 and is scheduled to continue indefinitely. Surveys are 30 point-count stations in forested uplands.

Conservation Issues

Restoration of 1100 acres (445 hectares) of slash pine plantation to longleaf pine flatwoods is underway. Prescribed fire and selected timbering have reduced the canopy cover. Longleaf pine and threeawn will be replanted where appropriate. ? A comprehensive monitoring program is in place. Prescribed burning is used for maintaining fire-dependent habitats. ? Exotic plants, mostly Brazilian pepper and cogongrass, are actively controlled. ? The Management Plan is revised every five years, and both sites are managed by DEP. ? Hunting is prohibited and logging is solely for restoration purposes. ? A few groups of Florida Scrub-Jays occur in recently-purchased scrub just south of the Withlacoochee River. The scrub is heavily overgrown in the absence of fire, and restoration has begun.

Ownership

Florida Division of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas

Habitat

*temperate hammock, *hardwood swamp, *slash pine plantation, *tidal marsh, *estuarine, pine flatwoods, xeric oak scrub, fields, bayhead, mangrove forest, freshwater marsh, sawgrass marsh, riverine, lacustrine

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