Important Bird Areas

Wekiva-Ocala Greenway

Florida

*Florida Scrub-Jay not accepted as trigger species because of decline in population, based on decision on 28Feb03.

Wekiva-Ocala Greenway CARL-FF Project, 27885 ha, with 27215 ha acquired as Seminole State Forest
Royal Trails Development, 1416 ha

In eastern Lake County and western Volusia County, mostly west of the St. Johns and Wekiwa rivers between State Road 40 and State Road 46. Contiguous with the Ocala National ForestLake George IBA to the north and the Wekiva Basin GEOpark IBA to the south.

The critical link between Ocala National Forest and Wekiwa Basin GEOpark. Most of this IBA is part of the WekivaOcala Greenway CARLFF Project, which was initiated in 1992. The Royal Trails development, which is mostly undeveloped and not sought for public acquisition, supported dozens of Florida Scrub-Jay groups in 1993, and adjacent areas were estimated to contain dozens of other groups. State acquisition efforts have protected over 37,000 acres (14,973 hectares) of the CARLFF Project, much of which is scrub. Privately owned acreage is added to Seminole State Forest when acquired publicly.

Ornithological Summary

The Wekiva-Ocala Greenway IBA supports a regionally significant population of Florida Scrub-Jays.

Conservation Issues

*development, *habitat succession, human disturbance

Royal Trails: State acquisition efforts have targeted nearly 70,000 acres (28,329 hectares) in the region, but have excluded Royal Trails a large, mostly undeveloped subdivision. Most of Royal Trails and properties to the north burned in 1989, and the area was prime oak scrub within a few years. Surrounding areas are mostly mature sand pine forests. Not surprisingly, virtually all the Florida Scrub-Jays found south of SR-42 and west of SR-44 in 1993 were in the recently burned area. Over 100 jays were estimated to occur in the northern portion of Royal Trails and properties to the north, and this number may have been a substantial underestimate. (Current numbers probably are much lower in the absence of habitat management). ? The Florida Scrub-Jay population at Seminole State Forest has ?declined precipitously? in recent years, due to habitat succession +(Blanchard et al. 1999). The State Forest contains 4900 acres (1983 hectares) of scrub, and therefore could support well over 100 groups of scrub-jays, but only 3 groups were found in 1999 +(Blanchard et al. 1999). ? One of the sites recently acquired as part of Seminole State Forest was a site along the south side of SR-42. In 1993, 6 Florida Scrub-Jay groups were found in a small part of this site, in a 0.5-mile (0.8-km) stretch of SR-42 and Fullerville Road (Lake County #36 in +Pranty 1996b). Between May 1993, when the site was surveyed, and December 1998, when the site was acquired by the state, the property was cleared and converted to non-native pasture +(Blanchard et al. 1999). This (probably non-permitted) clearing of scrub occupied by Florida Scrub-Jays should clearly demonstrate the extreme risk that development poses to both scrub and scrub-jays.

Ownership

Florida Division of Forestry (Seminole State Forest), Florida Department of Environmental Protection (other publicly acquired lands; added to Wekiwa Basin GEOpark, which is its own IBA; see pages 214?215), and private owners (Royal Trails and remaining acreage of the Wekiva?Ocala Greenway CARL?FF Project)

Habitat

*pine flatwoods, *xeric oak scrub, *sand pine scrub, fields, non-native pasture, artificial

Land Use

*conservation, *private property (proposed for development), recreation

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