City of High Springs
Rapid Ecological Project Assessment
Matrix Score: 6.07 of 9.44
Size: 17 acres
Number of parcels: 1
Number of owners: 1
Number of Buildings: 0
The 17-acre City of
A brief site assessment by Alachua County Forever staff revealed that the site consists of calcareous mesic hammock, a sinkhole that was holding water, an associated stream that turns into a ditch at the perimeter of the property, a seepage area and an old field mixed hardwood and pine area. Invasive exotic plant control is the primary management concern. It appears that the site currently receives stormwater runoff from some of the surrounding residences.
Protecting Water Resources:
The HIG project is located in
the unconfined aquifer zone of
Johns River Water Management District’s (SJRWMD) Aquifer Recharge Map for
According to the USGS Water Resources Investigation Report 88-4057, the HIG project is located in an area where greater than ten inches of water is recharged to the Floridan Aquifer System per year (Aucott 1988).
According to the available data
layers, there are no wetlands, hydric soils, or FEMA 100 or 500 year flood
hazard areas within the City of
The City of High Springs is working
with the Suwannee River Water Management District to improve stormwater
management in the City. Much of the
stormwater is channeled into sinkholes where it eventually ends up in the
Protecting Natural Communities and Landscapes:
Calcareous Mesic Hammock
Old Field Mixed Pine and Hardwood
The above list of natural
communities is from a brief site visit conducted by
The HIG project is a small, isolated parcel of land located in a residential area in the City of High Springs that is dominated by calcareous mesic hammock. It is not connected to any large natural areas; however, there are some small undeveloped parcels in the vicinity of the project with what appears from the Alachua County 2001 aerial photography to be hammock vegetation. The nearest large conservation areas are Poe Springs, approximately 3.5 miles away, and River Rise State Park, just under 2 miles from the project site, Map 2. The site is internally fragmented by a power line running diagonally across the southern end of the parcel, and the infrastructure from the waterworks, a damn and the remains of an old wooden building.
The calcareous mesic hammock was of
good quality, with a diverse array of species including live oak,
The eastern side of the property and a portion of the southern end have been cleared in the past. The vegetation in this area is composed of pines, oaks, and turf grass with a scattering of ruderal species.
None of the HIG project is within
the Florida Ecological Greenways Network (FEGN). The Florida Ecological Greenways Network is a
decision support model to help identify the best opportunities to protect
ecological connectivity statewide. It
was developed by the
There area no Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas within the HIG project. Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas were developed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). 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).
The HIG site does not fall within the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) 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).
The HIG site does not contain any FNAI
Under-represented Natural Communities.
Under-represented Natural Communities are those natural community types
that were inadequately represented on conservation lands in
Protecting Plant and Animal Species:
Common Name Endemic/ Large Fed/State FCREPA/FNAI Observed
Home-Range Status Designation
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake -/- -/- -/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.
No listed species were observed during the brief site inspection.
There was a significant invasive plant infestation in the hammock, especially near the stream. Coral ardisia occurred in the greatest numbers; however camphor tree, English ivy, and glossy privet were also represented.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission data does not show any bald eagle nests on or within a five mile vicinity of the project site.
Thirty-four percent of the HIG site falls within Regional Biodiversity Hotspots. The purpose of the Regional Biodiversity Hot Spots maps developed by FWC 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).
The HIG property will require a good deal of effort to control invasive plants because of the existing invasive plant problem and the constant re-introduction of invasives from the residences that back up to the project area. However, because the site is relatively small, this level of effort is manageable.
The disturbed area on the east is a good location for the development of the infrastructure for the proposed city park. If not, it could be restored by controlling invasive plants and allowing natural recruitment and succession to continue or by re-vegetating the area.
Achieving Social and Human Values:
The HIG project is not within a Natural Resource-based Recreation Area (Knight, et al. 2000) as delineated on the Natural Resource-based Recreation map developed by FNAI in collaboration with FWC, the Florida Department of Environmental Resources and the Florida Division of Forestry. 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 HIG project area is not within
the Emerald Necklace Land Conservation Initiative – a publicly accessible,
connected, and protected network of trails, greenways, open space, and
waterfronts surrounding the
The HIG project provides an excellent
opportunity to create a passive-recreation city park, with an environmental and
historical education component. It fits
into the City of High Springs’ recreation plan, and if acquired, would be
connected to the City’s new active recreation complex by a 0.8 mile walk. The adjacent
Economic & Acquisition:
The 17-acre HIG property has one owner and one parcel, and contains no buildings or improvements according to the Alachua County Property Appraiser. The ACPA’s 2002 Just Value or land value for the entire project is $37,900 or $2,269/ 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 project site falls is in the City of High Springs, and has a residential zoning and Future Land Use designation. The parcel has not been subdivided but is an area of large lot residential development. There is a moderate threat of losing the environmental and social values of the property through development.
The HIG project would make an excellent Florida Communities Trust project, and if submitted by the City, would not require any matching funds. ACF staff could assist the City in the development of an FCT grant application.
There is one archaeological site listed on the Florida Master Site File maintained by the Division of Historical Resources immediately adjacent to the project site, and eleven others within a two mile radius.
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