Important Bird Areas

Osceola National Forest-Okefenokee Swamp

Florida

Osceola National Forest, 78149 ha
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, 1488 ha
Pinhook Swamp CARL-FF Project, 21033 ha (unacquired)

In eastern Columbia County and western Baker County between the Suwannee and St. Marys rivers, and extending from the Georgia state line south to State Road 90.

A vast area of pine flatwoods, cypress swamps, and wetlands. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most preserved freshwater habitats in the United States. It is a vast depressional area that supports a diversity of swampland. Most of the Refuge (390,000 acres; 157,833 hectares) is located in Georgia. Because over 99% of Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is located in Georgia, no information is provided for the portion located in Florida; this area is not publicly accessible.

Ornithological Summary

Osceola National Forest supports the full diversity of pine flatwoods species, including Red-cockaded Woodpeckers; no avian data are available for Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge or the Pinhook Swamp CARLFF Project.

Additional Data:
Diversity - 167 natives, 3 exotics

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

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 CARLFF Project)

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