Rapid Ecological Project Assessment
Matrix Score: 6.58 of 9.44
Number of parcels 243
Number of owners 145
LOCATION / DESCRIPTION:
The 15,192 acre Buck Bay Flatwoods
(BBF) Project is located between the City of
The BBF project is a combination of two projects from the Alachua County Ecological Inventory Project (KBN Study); Buck Bay Flatwoods and Monteocha Creek, KBN 1996. The purpose of the KBN Study was to identify, inventory, map, describe, and evaluate the most significant natural biological communities, both upland and wetland, that remain in private ownership in Alachua County and make recommendations for protecting these natural resources, KBN 1996. The Buck bay Flatwoods project was ranked 20th of 47 projects evaluated in the county, and categorized as average, and the Monteocha Creek project was ranked 39th and categorized as below average, KBN 1996.
The KBN Study summarized the Buck
Bay Flatwoods project by stating that, “This is a large site of commercial pine
flatwoods and associated wetlands directly north of
The Monteocha Creek project is summarized in the KBN Study by the following paragraph,
“This is a tributary of the
Protecting Water Resources:
The Buck Bay Flatwoods site is
located in the confined aquifer zone of
Although the project site is shown as a high to moderately high aquifer recharge area on the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) Aquifer Recharge Map and the Aucott map, Aucott, 1988, new data indicates that this area of the county does not serve a significant aquifer recharge function, personal communication Robin Hallbourg, Environmental Engineer, Water Quality Division, Alachua County Environmental Protection Department.
Approximately 48% of the BBF
project is wetlands, contains hydric soils, or falls within the FEMA 100 or 500
year flood hazard zone. About half of
the BBF is within the Murphree Wellfield protection zone. The Murphree Wellfield is the source of
drinking water for the most populated portions of the county, including the
The BBF site is the headwaters area
for many stream systems. “This site is
underlain by the relatively impermeable Hawthorn Formation which restricts
percolation of water down into the Florida Aquifer. The main body of this site has flat
topography with abundant wetlands that store large supplies of surface
water. It is mostly between 155 and 175
feet in elevation above mean sea level.
The drainage is to many different creek systems. Rocky Creek and Monteocha Creek drain to the
north into the
As part of their 2003 Legislative
A Portion of the BBF project is in
the proposed SWIM area. It contains the
headwaters for Hatchet Creek and Little Hatchet Creek which discharge into
Protecting Natural Communities and Landscapes:
The above list of natural communities is from the KBN Report, KBN, 1996. Most of the uplands are bedded slash pine plantations, and the wetlands are in fair condition, KBN 1996.
The Project site is adjacent to the
Murphree Wellfield Conservation Area, and three ACF projects, Austin Cary
Approximately 50% of the project
site is within the Florida Ecological Greenways Network (FEGN). About 45% is in an un-named priority 6
project area that connects San Felasco Hammock State Park to the
Protection of the Rayonier tracts within the BBF project would connect the Murphree Wellfield to the Austin Cary Flatwoods and the Northeast flatwoods and make the connection to San Felasco Hammock possible. The Monteocha Creek portion of the project is too narrow, subdivided and developed to be a high quality connector.
Less than 5% of the BBF Project falls within a wading bird Strategic Habitat Conservation Area. Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas were developed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC). They are private lands containing habitats critical to the continued survival of populations of inadequately protected plants and animals, Cox et al. 2000. These lands are essential to providing some of state’s rarest animals, plants, and natural communities with the land base necessary to sustain populations into the future, Cox et al.1994.
Approximately 50% of the site is in the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) priority 5 Habitat Conservation Priorities. FNAI’s Habitat Conservation Priorities prioritize places on the landscape that would protect both the greatest number of rare species and those species with the greatest conservation need, Florida Natural Areas Inventory, June 2001.
About 10% of the BBF project is
delineated as pine flatwoods, an Under-represented Natural Community. Under-represented
Natural Communities are those
natural community types that were inadequately represented on conservation
PROTECTING PLANT AND ANIMAL SPECIES:
Common Name Endemic/ Large Fed/State FCREPA/FNAI Observed
Home-Range Status Designation
Eastern Tiger Salamander -/- -/- SU/S3 SM
Gopher Frog -/- -/SSC T/S3 SM
Striped Newt -/- -/- R/S2S3 SM
American Alligator -/- T/SSC -/S4 SM
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake -/- -/- -/S3 SM
Eastern Indigo Snake -/- T/T SSC/S3 SM
Gopher Tortoise -/- -/SSC T/S3 K
Peninsula Mole Skink -/- -/- -/- SM
Short-tailed Snake X/- -/T T/S3 SM
Spotted Turtle -/- -/- R/S3? SM
Great Egret -/- -/- SSC/S4 SM
Hairy Woodpecker -/- -/- SSC/S3 SM
Little Blue Heron -/- -/SSC SSC/S4 SM
Osprey -/- -/- T/S3S4 SM
Snowy Egret -/- -/SSC SSC/S3 SM
Southern Bald Eagle -/L T/T T/S3 F
Tricolored Heron -/- -/SSC SSC/S4 SM
Wild Turkey -/L -/- -/- F
Wood Stork -/- E/E E/S2 SM
Bobcat -/L -/- -/- F
Northern Yellow Bat -/- -/- SU/- SM
River Otter -/- -/- -/- SM
Round-tailed Muskrat X/- -/- SSC/S3 SM
X= Endemic, L=species with large home ranges according to the Closing the Gaps in Florida’s Wildlife Habitat System, S= observed by Alachua Co. EPD staff and/or an LCB subcommittee member, SM= documented on the Species Models maps created by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, F= Focal species used for the most detailed analyses in the Closing the Gaps in Florida’s Wildlife Habitat Conservation System, Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, 1994, N= Florida Natural Areas Inventory Element Occurrence, P= potential for species based on habitat types, K=documented in the Alachua County Ecological Inventory Project.
Catesby’s Lilly, royal fern, and cinnamon fern were noted on the property in the KBN Study. FNAI lists Chapman’s Skeleton grass for the property in its Element Occurrence data.
The FFWCC 2001 bald eagle nest data shows one bald eagle nest on the BBF site and no additional nests within 2 miles.
Approximately 60% of the site is within Regional Biodiversity Hotspots. The purpose of the Regional Biodiversity Hot Spots maps, developed by FFWCC, is to “convey more detailed information on the known locations of as many components of biological diversity as possible, regardless of whether or not they fall within proposed Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas, to help meet the need for conservation information at regional and local levels”, Cox et al. 1994..
Chinese tallow was observed on the project site, and taro was observed within 200 feet of the project site, KBN 1996. ACF staff observed a moderate infestation of air potato, Chinese tallow, taro, Japanese climbing fern, and castor bean on the southern portion of the site. The southern portion of the site is vulnerable to continuing problems with invasive plants due to its location near residential and commercial development.
Achieving Social and Human Values:
About 15% of the BBF is a Priority 1-5 Natural Resource-based Recreation Area, Knight, et al. 2000, and about 50% is a priority 5 or 6 Ecological Greenway. The Natural Resource-based Recreation map was developed by FNAI in collaboration with DEP, FFWCC and DOF. The recreation potential of a site depends on available road access, presence of a water body or beach, proximity to urban areas, and size of the site. “These criteria were applied to Potential Natural Areas delineated by FNAI using aerial photography and revised using the 1995 Water Management District land cover data. Sites were ranked by recreation potential.” Knight, et al. 2000.
The BBF Project is part of the
Emerald Necklace Land Conservation Initiative - “a publicly accessible,
connected, and protected network of trails, greenways, open space, and waterfronts
The project would enhance recreational opportunities in the northern part of the county.
Invasive plant control and the reintroduction of prescribed fire into the system will be necessary for the effective management of this site. The southern portion of the site is vulnerable to continuing problems with invasive plants because it is located near residential developments.
Economic/ Acquisition Issues:
There are 243 parcels and 145 ownerships in the 15,192 acre BBF Project. The property appraiser shows 141 buildings on their parcel database. Three ownerships make up 9,095 acres or 60% of the project acreage; the remaining 6,097 acres or 40% of the project is divided between 142 owners. The Alachua County Property Appraisers 2002 Just Value or land value for the entire project is $21,532,500 or $1,417/ acre. The ACPA’s total value (Just, Miscellaneous and Buildings) for the project area is $27,909,200 or 1,837/acre. These figures are for comparative purposes between nominated properties, and are not necessarily an accurate reflection of the true cost of the property if acquired by the Alachua County Forever Program.
The Rayonier tracts are the keystone parcels in this project, Map 3. The 4,892 acre Rayonier Tracts are adjacent to the Murphree Wellfield Conservation Area, and if acquired would connect the Wellfield Conservation Area to the ACF Austin Cary Flatwoods Project through Hatchet Creek, and to the southwest corner of the Northeast Flatwoods Project. These tracts are the most valuable in the project because they make critical connections to other natural areas within the county, and as such have by themselves more value than the overall score reflects. These parcels should be the priority within this project area.
site falls within unincorporated
Administrative and Professional 60 acres
Single family Residential 235 acres
Manufacturing and Processing Industrial 294 acres
Light Industrial 203 acres
Highway Oriented Business 1 acre
Business and Professional 4 acres.
land use is very similar to the existing zoning. Approximately 800 acres are within the Urban
Services Line, and about 500 acres are in the City of
There are two archeological sites within one mile of the BBF Project as listed on the Division of Historic Resources Florida Master Site File.
Aucott, W. 1988. Water Resources Investigation Report 88-4057. USGS.
Cox, J., R. Kautz, M. MacLaughlin, and T. Gilbert.
1994. Closing the Gaps in
Cox, J. and R. Kautz. 2000. Habitat Conservation Needs of
Rare and Imperiled Wildlife in
Hoctor, T.S., J. Teisinger, M.G. Carr., P.C, Zwick. 2002.
Identification of Critical Linkages Within the
Knight, G., A. Knight, and J. Oetting. 2000. Florida Forever
Conservation Needs Assessment Summary Report to the Florida Forever Advisory
KBN, A Golder Associates Company. 1996.
Macesich, M. 1988.
Geologic Interpretation of the Aquifer Pollution Potential in