Important Bird Areas

Lake Mary Jane-Upper Econ Mosaic

Florida

Lake Lizzie Nature Preserve, 371 ha
Lake Mary Jane, 485 ha
Moss Park, 627 ha
Split Oak Forest Mitigation Park Wildlife and Environmental Area, 683 ha
Upper Econ Mosaic CARL-FF Project, 12607 ha

In south-central Orange County and north-central Osceola County, between Weewahootee Road and County Road 500-A, and east of State Road 15. It is bordered on the northwest by Lake Hart and on the south by Lake Lizzie and Bay Lake

Three small parks and preserves (two adjacent and the third about 5.7 miles [9.2 km] to the south) linked by the largest cattle ranch in Florida, of which a portion is sought for public acquisition. It is a large expanse of habitats within the northern part of the Osceola Plain physiographic region and supports a mosaic of natural communities. The IBA includes the Econlockhatchee River Swamp (the headwaters of the Econlockhatchee River), four large lakes and additional smaller ones, and portions of six others. These lakes are hydrologically connected to the Upper Kissimmee Chain of Lakes. Lake Lizzie Nature Preserve is a recent acquisition that will emphasize passive use.

Other listed species occurring within the IBA include gopher tortoise and ?Sherman?s? fox squirrel. ? Econlockhatchee River Swamp is designated as an Outstanding Florida Water. ? For several years, a wading bird festival was held at Moss Park to raise awareness about the rookery. ? Part of this IBA has been designated by +Cox et al. (1994) as a Strategic Habitat Conservation Area.

Ornithological Summary

Significant populations of Endangered, Threatened, and Watch List species; and significant natural habitats

Lake Mary Jane contains a 5-acre (2-hectare) island that supports a significant wading bird rookery. Split Oak Forest and Lake Lizzie Nature Preserve both support small numbers of Florida Scrub-Jays, while the CARL-FF Project contains 2500 acres (1011 hectares) of suitable habitat and could potentially support dozens of scrub-jay groups with proper restoration and management.

Conservation Issues

*development, *habitat succession, human disturbance

Suburban sprawl is rampant in the region, and several large developments are encroaching on this IBA. Acquisition of the Upper Econ Mosaic CARL?FF Project is a state priority, but preservation is largely dependent on the willingness of a single ranch owner. ? Jet-skis and boats cause disturbance to the wading bird colony in Moss Lake; park officials are seeking ways to limit jet-ski use of the lake. ? ATV use at Lake Lizzie Nature Preserve, although now prohibited, still occurs; enforcement is needed.

If publicly acquired, a management priority of the Upper Econ Mosaic CARL-FF Project must be the creation and maintenance of a demographically viable population of Florida Scrub-Jays in a region where such populations are virtually unknown. This site likely provides

Habitat

(amounts exclude Moss Park and Split Oak Forest): *longleaf pine flatwoods (12,957 acres; 5243 hectares), *cypress swamps and bayheads (9928 acres; 4017 hectares), *lacustrine, flag and sawgrass marshes (2614 acres; 1057 hectares), xeric oak scrub and sand pine scrub (1814 acres; 734 hectares), slash pine flatwoods (acreage included within longleaf pine flatwoods), temperate hammock (728 acres; 294 hectares), riverine (50 acres; 20 hectares), artificial.

Land Use

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