Circle-B Bar Reserve, 513 ha
Fort Meade Recreation Area, 330 ha
IMC-Agrico Peace River Park, 178 ha
Lake Hancock, 1842 ha
Saddle Creek County Park, 283 ha
Saddle Creek Sanctuary, 127 ha
Teneroc Fish Management Area, 2980 ha

Several existing and proposed conservation areas in the heart of the phosphate mining district; portions of many of the sites are reclaimed mined lands. Lake Hancock is one of the largest lakes in the state, and the Peace River, which forms near the south end of the lake, empties into Charlotte Harbor, about 62 miles (100 km) to the south. Panther Point is private land sought for public acquisition along the southeastern shore of Lake Hancock. The number of visitors to the publicly owned sites is not known, but is estimated to be >10,000 recreationists annually to Saddle Creek County Park. Lake Hancock receives relatively little boat traffic due to poor public access. Tenoroc Fish Management Area receives 20,000 visitors annually, mostly anglers.

Ornithological Summary

Rookeries along the shore of Lake Hancock and at Tenoroc Fish Management Area support significant numbers of wading birds and Ospreys, while the uplands are most important to Neotropical migrants. Bald Eagles also forage in Lake Hancock; there are 9 nests within 3 miles (4.8 km) of the lake. Saddle Creek County Park is one of the most well-known fall-migrant birding sites in Florida.

Conservation Issues

*development (of privately owned sites), *exotic plants, human disturbance, exotic animals

Most of this IBA is in public ownership, but private lands are threatened by residential development. ?Old Florida Plantation? is a 4700-unit residential development that in 1999 was approved on mined lands along the southern shore of Lake Hancock. ?Exotic plants (mostly Brazilian pepper and cogongrass) occur at most sites, but funding is not currently available for control. ? In 2001, Polk County and the Southwest Florida Water Management District jointly purchased a ranch on the northwest shore of Lake Hancock, now known as Circle B-Bar Reserve. Part of the management plan involves rehydrating drained wetlands along Banana Creek. Since public acquisition, the Preserve has attracted large numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds, a phenomenal change in less than a year. ? Tenoroc Fish Management Area is the focus of a large-scale state-funded project to restore the ecological and hydrological functions of mined lands in the Upper Saddle Creek Basin. ? About 1565 acres (633 hectares) of land, primarily surrounding Lake Hancock, remain to be acquired publicly. ? Only 3 of 28 Osprey nests in June 1998 contained young; the causes of this apparently low nesting success deserve study.

Ownership

State of Florida (Lake Hancock, Peace River), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (Tenoroc Fish Management Area), Polk County Environmental Lands Program (Circle B-Bar Reserve), Polk County Parks and Recreation Department (IMC?Agrico Peace River Park and Saddle Creek County Park), Audubon of Florida (Saddle Creek Sanctuary), City of Fort Meade (Fort Meade Recreation Area), and private owners

Habitat

*riverine, *lacustrine, *artificial (mined lands), pine flatwoods, temperate hammock, fields, cypress swamp, freshwater marsh, cattail marsh

Land Use

*conservation, *recreation, grazing, private (potential development)

Stay abreast of Audubon

Our email newsletter shares the latest programs and initiatives.