Rapid Ecological Project Assessment
Matrix Score: 6.87 of 9.44
Size: 6,497 acres
Number of parcels: 78
Number of owners: 31
Number of buildings: 22
acre Lake Santa Fe (LAK) Project is located in the northeast quarter of
Project is a combination of three projects from the Alachua County Ecological Inventory Project (KBN Study), KBN 1996;
The KBN Study summarizes the
The South Melrose Flatwoods is described in the KBN Study as, “a relatively small area on the south side of Lake Santa Fe that is mostly pine flatwoods forest with some good quality wetlands, a small lake, and some shore line on Lake Santa Fe”, KBN 1996.
Protecting Water Resources:
The LAK project is located in
the confined 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 LAK project falls partly within the 1-10 inches of recharge to the Floridan Aquifer System per year area and partly in the 1 inch of recharge area, Aucott 1988.
Approximately 46% of the LAK project is wetlands, has hydric soils, or falls within the FEMA 100 or 500 year flood hazard zone.
Lake Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Swamp were designated an “Outstanding Florida Water”, in Florida Statues, Chapter 62-302.700 Special Protection, Outstanding Florida Waters, Outstanding National Resource Waters.
project sits on top of the Hawthorn Formation, which maintains the perched
waters in the area. Water in the
Protecting Natural Communities and Landscapes:
Low Impact Development
Old Field Pine
The above list of natural communities is from the KBN Report. The ecological quality of the natural communities ranges from fair to good, KBN 1996.
The Project site is adjacent to Lake
Santa Fe, Bonnet Pond, Lake Alto, Hickory Pond, Lake Alto Swamp, Santa Fe Swamp
and includes the LEAFS Properties. It
also provides a connection between
Ninety-four percent of the LAK project
site is within the Florida Ecological Greenways Network (FEGN). Eighty-seven percent lies within the priority
3 project area known as “Ocala NF-Lochloosa-Paynes Prairie-Newnans Lake”, and the
remaining seven percent is within an unnamed priority 6 area. The priority 3
FEGN project is the highest priority FEGN project in
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
The LAK project does not fall within a 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 68% of the site falls within the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) priority two, four and 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 14 % 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
Protecting plant and Animal Species:
Common Name Endemic/ Large Fed/State FCREPA/FNAI Observed
Home-Range Status Designation
Flatwoods Salamander -/- T/- R/S2S3 SM
Striped Newt -/- -/- R/S2S3 SM
Peninsula Mole Skink -/- -/- -/- SM
Black Rail -/- -/- R/S2 SM
Great Egret -/- -/- SSC/S4 SM
Little Blue Heron -/- -/SSC SSC/S4 SM
River Otter -/- -/- -/- 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.
The Florida Natural Areas Inventory Element Occurrence data shows the narrowleaf naiad occurring on the site, and round-tailed musk rat, timber rattlesnake and Sherman’s fox squirrel as occurring within a half mile of the site.
Listed plants found on the property include royal fern, and cinnamon fern, hooded pitcher plant, and yellow butterwort, KBN, 1996.
Some invasive exotic Camphor trees, Chinese tallow trees, mimosa trees, alligator weed, and Japanese climbing fern were noted as occurring on the project site in the KBN Study, KBN 1996.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission data shows one bald eagle nest on the project site.
About 36% of the site falls 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 26% of the LAK area falls within a Priority one Natural Resource-based Recreation Area, Knight, et al. 2000. 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.
Ninety four percent of the project site falls within the Florida Ecological Greenway Network.
Most of the LAK Project area is
within the Emerald Necklace Land Conservation Initiative – “a publicly
accessible, connected, and protected network of trails, greenways, open space,
and waterfronts surrounding the
The LAK project would provide land and water based resource compatible recreational opportunities in the northeast Alachua County area, by improving access to Lake Santa Fe, Lake Alto, Bonnet Pond, Hickory Pond, Lake Alto Swamp, Lake Santa Fe Swamp, Saluda Swamp, and the associated flatwoods.
The LAK property provides very good opportunities for compatible resource based recreation.
Resource management issues in the
The pine flatwoods areas on the uplands are mostly in much worse condition. Some have been bedded and planted to dense stands of slash pine (Pinus elliottii) and some have been logged long ago and left unburned and unplanted. In both cases, prescribed burning is needed if the wildlife habitat values are to be improved. The great improvement that has occurred in the quality of the wildlife habitats and in the abundance of wildflowers, grasses, and mast producing ground cover plants such as runner oak (Quercus pumilia), blueberry (Vaccunuim spp.), and dwarf huckleberry (Gaylussacia dumosa) at the LEAFS Tract since prescribed burning began a few years ago is a testament to what prescribed burning can do”, KBN 1996.
The KBN Study recommends “gently”
burning the flatwoods of the
The South Melrose Flatwoods area is described by the KBN Study as an area that, “has had no prescribed burning, and the wildlife habitat and native ground cover vegetation values have suffered accordingly. A program of frequent prescribed burns would be beneficial. The ideal would be every two years, but any burning would be an improvement”, KBN 1996.
Economic & Acquisition
There are 78 parcels and 31 ownerships in the 6,497 acre Lake Santa Fe Project. The Alachua County Property Appraiser (ACPA) shows 22 buildings on their parcel data. The ACPA’s 2002 Just Value or land value for the entire project is $8,684,000 or $1,337/ acre. The ACPA’s total value (Just, Miscellaneous and Building) for the project area is $9,373,000 or $1,447/ 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.
There is a great deal of interest in the protection of this area by the Lake Santa Fe Lake Dwellers Association. They have been working diligently contacting land owners and locating potential partners for the preservation of the area. Potential partners include Florida Forever, Florida Communities Trust, the Suwannee River Water Management District, and the Alachua Conservation Trust.
The keystone and secondary properties are listed below and shown in Map 4:
SRWMD 5 year plan
Stratton & Straton Sr 18363-004-000
Hartman Plant Company 18363-005-000
Lake Alto Swamp/Lake Alto
Cox & Moore 18374-002-000
Boree and Huber 17486-000-000
Fairweather and Parchment 18376-000-000
Crosley & Crosley Trustee 18376-001-000
Cox & Moore 18374-000-000
Crosley & Crosley Trustee 18378-003-000
Drainage Easement 50000-000-000
Blueberry Hills 18540-000-000
Goldstein & Lyons Co-Tr 18543-002-000
Employees Retirement 18646-000-000
Fisher, Fisher and Jones 18388-000-000
The Subdivided Parker Land Company parcels starting from the east and working west should also be considered keystone parcels.
site falls within unincorporated
There are no archaeological sites within the LAK project area as listed on the Florida Master Site File by the Division of Historical Resources. However, there are eight listed sites within one mile of the project site.
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