Lake Forest Creek
Rapid Ecological Project Assessment
Matrix Score: 7.42 of 9.44
Size: 5,540 acres
Number of parcels: 109
Number of owners: 79
Number of Buildings: 62
The 5,540 acre Lake Forest Creek
(LFC) project is located on the west side of
The Alachua County Ecological Inventory Project (KBN Study) known as East Side Greenway overlaps the Alachua County Forever Lake Forest Creek Project (LFC). 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 East Side Greenways project was ranked 14th of 47 projects evaluated in the county, and categorized as above average.
The KBN Study summarized the East Side Greenway project by stating that, “This is a complex site designed to connect Paynes Prairie State Preserve, Morningside Nature Center, Gum Root Swamp, and the west shore of Newnans Lake at Sunland Park, at Palm Point, and at a third point farther south together by greenways while also including some high quality natural areas such as Palm Point Hill and several large swamps. The diversity of habitats is high and the significance for Morningside Nature Center of remaining connected to the larger areas of wildlife habitat is also high”, KBN, 1996.
Protecting Water Resources:
Eighty-three percent of the Lake
Forest Creek project is located in the confined aquifer zone of
to the St. Johns River Water Management District’s (SJRWMD) Aquifer Recharge
According to the USGS Water resources Investigation Report 88-4057, the property falls in an area of 1-10 inches of recharge per year, Aucott, 1988.
Approximately 60% of the total acreage is wetlands, has hydric soils, or falls within the FEMA 100 or 500 year flood hazard zone.
As part of
their 2003 Legislative Agenda,
The LFC project contains Lake
Forest Creek and its tributaries which bring water from the urbanized areas of
Water exits Newnans Lake through Prairie Creek where it either flows into Paynes Prairie and then goes into Alachua Sink, or is channeled through Camps Canal into the River Styx and then into Orange Lake, Map 2.
Protecting Natural Communities and Landscapes:
Old Field Pine
Low Impact Development
High Impact Development
The above list of natural communities is from the KBN study. The ecological quality of the natural communities ranges from poor to good, KBN 1996.
Forty-seven percent of the LFC project
is within the Florida Ecological Greenways Network (FEGN) un-named priority 6 project
area. 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
Approximately 6% of the LFC project falls within a Strategic Habitat Conservation Area for wading birds. 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 46 % of the site falls within the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) priority four or five 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 7 % of the project area 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 lands in
Protecting Plant and Animal Species:
Common Name Endemic/ Large Fed/State FCREPA/FNAI Observed
Home-Range Status Designation
Eastern Tiger Salamander -/- -/- SU/S3 SM
Flatwoods Salamander -/- T/- R/S2S3 SM
Gopher Frog -/- -/SSC T/S3 SM,K
Striped Newt -/- -/- R/S2S3 SM
American Alligator -/- T/SSC -/S4 SM,K
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake -/- -/- -/S3 SM
Eastern Indigo Snake -/- T/T SSC/S3 SM,K
Gopher Tortoise -/- -/SSC T/S3 F,N,K
Peninsula Mole Skink -/- -/- -/- SM
Short-tailed Snake X/- -/T T/S3 SM,N
Spotted Turtle -/- -/- R/S3? SM,N
Black-Crowned Night Heron -/- -/- SSC/S3 SM
Black Rail -/- -/- R/S3 SM
Great Egret -/- -/- SSC/S4 SM
Hairy Woodpecker -/- -/- SSC/S3 SM
Least Bittern -/- -/- SSC/S4 SM
Limpkin -/- -/SSC SSC/S3 F,K
Little Blue Heron -/- -/SSC SSC/S4 SM
Osprey -/- -/- T/S3S4 SM,N
Mottled Duck -/- -/- -/- F
Snowy Egret -/- -/SSC SSC/S3 SM
Southern Bald Eagle -/L T/T T/S3 F,N,K
Swallow-tailed Kite -/L -/- T/S2 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
Free Mouth Hydrobe -/- -/- - /S1 N
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, K=documented in the Alachua County Ecological Inventory Project.
Royal fern, cinnamon fern and
greenfly orchid are listed plants that are quite common on the project site,
KBN 1996. Catesby’s lily, yellow-fringed
orchid and rosebud orchid are found in
There are many exotics present on the site including paper mulberry, Chinese tallow, camphor tree, mimosa, air potato, chinaberry, and elephant ear, KBN 1996.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission data shows six bald eagle
nests on the project site and seven others within a mile and a half. The cluster of bald eagle nests around
About 21% 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.
Achieving Social and Human Values:
Approximately 34% of the LFC area falls within a Priority 1 or 2 Natural Resource-based Recreation Area, Knight, et al. 2000, and 47% is within a priority 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 LFC Project is part of the
Emerald Necklace Land Conservation Initiative – “a publicly accessible,
connected, and protected network of trails, greenways, open space, and
waterfronts surrounding the
The LFC project would link the GSCA,
The LFC project falls within the Plan
East Gainesville Project Area. The
January 2003, DRAFT Plan East Gainesville-Final Report seeks a “comprehensive
economic revitalization plan that achieves a balance of environmental
preservation with land development and improved transportation mobility”, Renaissance
Planning Group, January 2003, page 2. The
Report summarizes the Land Conservation Plan by the following paragraph,
“Complementing the land use plan is a Land Conservation Element that
establishes priorities for the preservation and protection of natural lands and
enhancement of the area’s unique natural resources. The land conservation plan
has two primary objectives: 1) preserve and protect natural resources for the
enjoyment of future generations, and 2) improve the visibility and access to
those resources through amenities that enhance the appreciation and perception
of the Eastside, and provide for improved connectivity between neighborhoods
and commercial or economic centers. This
is accomplished through the creation of a greenway network that restores
waterways to improve water quality and provides for multi-use trails that
connect community facilities and neighborhoods”, Renaissance Planning Group,
January 2003, page 45. Both the
“Some of the lands on the greenway site [East Side Greenway, KBN Site] are in good condition. The swamp and some of the hammock areas are doing fine with no management. However, even here, the need for control of invasive exotics will eventually require some management effort if the natural values are to be maintained. The sandhill and flatwoods areas need to be managed with fire to provide the habitat values needed by such animals as fox squirrels and gopher tortoise, and to maintain the native plant community. There are hundreds of species of native wildflowers that occur in the fire dependent habitats when they burn regularly, but which are eliminated completely if no fires occur for many decades”, KBN 1996.
Development in close proximity to the project site will make prescribed fire and invasive plant control challenging.
Economic & Acquisition:
There are 109 parcels and 79
ownerships in the 5,540 acre Lake Forest Creek Project. The Alachua County Property Appraiser (ACPA)
shows 62 buildings on their parcel data.
The State of
The keystone parcels in the LFC project
are the state owned tracts (
Daemer 57 acres
Robertson III 285 acres
Tanton 10 acres (Paynes Prairie Optimum Boundary)
Adkinson 15 acres (Paynes Prairie Optimum Boundary)
Staff recommends working with the State
to preserve the forested areas and wetlands, and enhance the riparian buffer
around the stream corridor. This would
help improve the quality of water discharged into
Ninety percent of the LFC project
is in unincorporated
21 archeological sites within the LFC project area as listed on the Florida
Master Site File by the Division of Historical Resources. This includes the “Lake Pithlachocco Canoe
Site” where a large number of log boats dating from 1250-1600 AD were found
when the water level in
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 council.
KBN, A Golder Associates
Macesich, M. 1988. Geologic Interpretation of the Aquifer
Pollution Potential in
Renaissance Planning Group.
January 2003. Draft Plan