Important Bird Areas

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park

Florida

In southern Alachua County a few miles south of Gainesville, primarily between County Road 121 and County Road 234. Contiguous with the Alachua Lakes IBA to the east, and near the Kanapaha Prairie IBA to the west.

A large natural area centered around Paynes Prairie, currently a shallow marsh but previously a large lake; steamboats plied its waters in the 1880s. The State Park receives over 200,000 recreationists annually. [More information needed]

Ownership: Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Ornithological Summary

Significant populations of Endangered and Threatened species; significant numbers of wintering Sandhill Cranes; exceptional diversity of wood-warblers and overall species; and significant natural habitats.

A large diversity of species has been recorded in recent years, partially dependent upon water levels in the prairie. Hammocks around the prairie support a significant diversity of Neotropical migrants.

Conservation Issues

*exotic plants, *habitat succession, cowbird brood parasitism, feral cats, runoff

The Park contains 20 natural communities, of which many are maintained by use of prescribed-fire. ? Sweetwater Branch, a primary source of water to the Prairie, is affected by residential runoff. This has accelerated succession of the marsh in the Preserve's northeastern quarter to woody plants such as willow, wax myrtle, and ?boxelder (Acer negundo). Fire frequency is insufficient to return this area back to wet prairie and open marsh. ? Exotic plants are a serious problem, especially Chinese tallow and ?wild taro (Colocasia esculenta). Common water-hyacinth has been a problem in the past. ? An organization in Gainesville that supports ?colonies? of feral cats refused to agree to keep ?colonies? at least 1 mile (1.6 km) from the park boundaries. ? The Paynes Prairie Ecopassage?a system of walls and culverts??was installed along U.S. Highway 441 in 2000. The Ecopassage funnels animals to the culverts under the road to avoid continued mortality. It was estimated that over 100,000 animals were killed annually while crossing the road to move from one portion of the Park to another.

Ownership

Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Habitat

*pine flatwoods, *temperate hammock, *freshwater marsh, *cattail marsh, fields, non-native pasture, cypress swamp, bayhead, sawgrass marsh, riverine, lacustrine, artificial

Land Use

*conservation, recreation