Bull Creek Wildlife Management Area, 13109 ha
Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area, 25057 ha
Triple N Ranch Wildlife Management Area, 4408 ha
Private lands are sought for acquisition or conservation easements under the Big Bend Swamp-Holopaw Ranch CARL-FF Project (54,425 acres [22,025 hectares], unacquired), Osceola Pine Savannas CARL-FF Project (24,189 acres; 9789 ha remaining) and Ranch Reserve CARL-FF Project (35,300 acres [14,285 hectares], with perpetual conservation easements obtained on 11,768 acres [4762 hectares]).

In central and southern Osceola County, encompassing much of the area south of U.S. Highway 441 between the Kissimmee River and the OsceolaBrevard county line. Contiguous with the Kissimmee Lake and River IBA to the west, and near the Upper St. Johns River Basin IBA to the east.

Several large conservation areas linked by private ranches encompassing a vast rural area in the central Peninsula. About half of this IBA is in public ownership, while protection of the remainder is sought via perpetual conservation easements. Public properties are managed primarily for hunting. Data for this IBA are largely limited to Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area and ranchland accessible along public roadways. Private properties along the northeastern shore of Lake Marian not currently sought for preservation have been added to this IBA because they support several Bald Eagle nests.

Ornithological Summary

Avian data are quite limited, owing to the inaccessibility of much of the area, but typical species of flatwoods, prairies, and associated habitats are supported, as well as significant populations of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and Florida Grasshopper Sparrows. One of the densest nesting concentrations of Bald Eagles in North America occurs in the region. Crested Caracaras probably occur in greater numbers than IBA data suggest. A little-known xeric oak scrub and scrubby flatwoods ridge runs southeast through this IBA, south beyond the IBA boundary to areas south and east of Yeehaw Junction. A few groups of Florida Scrub-Jays are known to occur in scattered patches of scrub or scrubby flatwoods along this ridge, and other groups probably occur. The Whooping Crane reintroduction program, which began in 1992, is concentrated on this area of Osceola County. Only a rudimentary bird list is available for this IBA.

Additional Data:
Long-term research, since 1991 - "Florida" Grasshopper Sparrow monitoring

Conservation Issues

*human disturbance, *habitat succession, development, exotic plants, feral hogs

The primary management issue of Osceola National Forest is returning a natural fire regime to the flatwoods. For the past 30 years, fires have been set during the non-growing season. A growing-season wildfire in 1998 burned over 20,000 acres (8094 hectares); vegetation surveys of the burned area documented their recovery. Large-scale flatwoods restoration using growing-season fires is urgently needed. ? The Pinhook Swamp CARL?FF Project was designed to provide a direct link between Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and Osceola National Forest. To date, nearly 100,000 acres (40,470 hectares) have been acquired, at a cost of $60 million

Ownership

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge), U.S. Forest Service (Osceola National Forest), and private owners (unacquired acreage of the Pinhook Swamp CARL?FF Project, added to Osceola National Forest as acquired)

Habitat

*longleaf pine flatwoods, *cypress swamp, *hardwood swamp, pine plantation, bayhead, riverine, lacustrine, quaking bog

Land Use

*conservation, *timber production, recreation, hunting, saw palmetto berry harvesting

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