Important Bird Areas

Dog Island-Lanark Reef

Florida

Lanark Reef, 2-29 ha;
Dog Island, 745 ha;
Jeff Lewis Wilderness Preserve, 445 ha;

Two islands in the Gulf of Mexico off central Franklin County. Dog Island is about 4 miles (6.4 km) south of Carrabelle, while Lanark Reef is about 1 mile (1.6 km) south of Lanark Village. This IBA is just east of the Greater Apalachicola Bay IBA.

Dog Island is the much larger of the two islands, more than 6 miles (9.6 km) long and nearly 1 mile (1.6 km) wide at its widest point. About 60% of the island is managed by The Nature Conservancy in cooperation with the Barrier Island Trust as the Jeff Lewis Wilderness Preserve. The remainder of the island is in private ownership in small tracts. N.B. At present, all of Dog Island is considered an IBA, since much of the privately- owned properties remain in their native state. However, IBA designation may eventually apply only to Jeff Lewis Wilderness Preserve, if privately-owned lands on Dog Island are developed. Lanark Reef is comprised mostly of sand flats, with broad acreage of mud flats and shallow water surrounding the 3 acres of upland beach. Although large areas of Lanark Reef are submerged at high tide, the State of Florida conveyed the island into private ownership in 1956 so the island is not regulated as sovereign submerged lands. The National Audubon Society purchased Lanark Reef in September 2012 to protect nesting, migrating, and wintering shore/seabirds. The upland area of Lanark Reef is closed year-round to pedestrians and dogs; boat landings are not permitted on the island. Lanark Reef has been designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as Critical Habitat for the Piping Plover. Dog Island supports small numbers of nesting sea turtles.

Ornithological Summary

This IBA is one of the most important wintering shorebird areas in Florida, especially for Piping Plovers,Snowy Plovers, and American Oystercatchers. Lanark Reef was ranked by Sprandel et al. (1997) as the biologically most important site in Florida for winter shorebirds. Lanark Reef also supports breeding Brown Pelicans, wading birds, American Oystercatchers, and larids. In the early 1990s, a banding station at Jeff Lewis Wilderness Preserve recorded large numbers of Neotropical migrants, including over 6000 Gray Catbirds in a single day. The bird list for Dog Island is 274 native and 3 exotic species; these totals probably also include the entire avifauna of Lanark Reef.

Conservation Issues

Lanark Reef is bank-owned and National Audubon Society is negotiating for purchase of the entire island in order to preclude development. Purchase is expected to be complete in the latter half of 2012. State Critical Wildlife Area designation will be pursued so the island can be closed to boat landings and pedestrian/dog access.

Ownership

State of Florida (most of Lanark Reef), The Nature Conservancy (most of Dog Island), and private owners (portions of Dog Island and Lanark Reef)

Habitat

Dog Island: *pine flatwoods, xeric oak scrub, sand pine scrub, depression marsh, mangrove forest, tidal marsh, estuarine, coastal strand. Lanark Reef: *coastal strand, tidal marsh

Land Use

Dog Island: *conservation, residential, recreation. Lanark Reef: *conservation, recreation