Lochloosa Creek Flatwoods
Rapid Ecological Project Assessment
Matrix Score: 7.87 of 9.44
Size: 22,782 acres
Number of Parcels: 110
Number of Owners: 34
Number of Buildings: 27
acre Lochloosa Creek Flatwoods (LCR) Project is the largest Alachua County
Forever Project being considered at this time.
It is located in the southeast quarter of unincorporated
The LCR Project is a combination of two projects from the Alachua County Ecological Inventory Project (KBN Study) (KBN 1996); Lochloosa Creek Headwaters Flatwoods and Lochloosa Creek. 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 Lochloosa Creek Headwaters Flatwoods project was ranked 9th of 47 projects evaluated in the county, and categorized as above average. The Lochloosa Creek project was ranked 20th, and categorized as average.
The KBN Study summarizes the Lochloosa Creek Headwaters Flatwoods by stating that, “This is a big area of commercial pine flatwoods forest with large areas of good quality floodplain swamp along Lochloosa Creek, large areas of good quality basin swamp, and a number of cypress domes, small ponds, and small marshes. It is the main headwaters area for Lochloosa Creek. The pine flatwoods are mostly well drained, and there are gopher tortoises on some of the drier areas. The pine flatwoods are mostly slash pine plantations on sites that have been bedded” (KBN 1996).
The Lochloosa Creek Project is summarized in the KBN Study by the following paragraph, “This is a medium sized area along the lower part of Lochloosa Creek and its floodplain that is a vital connection between the St. Johns River Water Management District’s lands, both owned and under conservation easement, on the north side of Lake Lochloosa, and the large wildlife habitat areas to the north in eastern Alachua County. It is also valuable wildlife habitat in its own right, with fine floodplain forests, some upland areas, and a spring” (KBN 1996).
Protecting Water Resources:
The Lochloosa Creek Flatwoods
project is located mostly in the confined aquifer zone of
Johns River Water Management District’s (SJRWMD) Aquifer Recharge map for
this area moves into Lochloosa Creek which flows into
As part of
their 2003 Legislative Agenda,
The LCR site contains not only the
headwaters for Lochloosa Creek but the creek itself, in addition to Magnesia
Springs. Lochloosa Creek is critical for the restoration of water quality in
Protecting Natural Communities and Landscapes:
Spring and short run
Low Impact Development
Old Field Pine
The above list of natural communities is from the KBN Report. The ecological quality of the natural communities is good overall (KBN 1996).
The Project site is adjacent to the
Lochloosa Wildlife Conservation Area (LWCA), the Gum Root Swamp Conservation
Area (GRSCA) and the southern tip of
The project site is within the
Florida Ecological Greenways Network (FEGN), in the priority 3 project area
known as “Ocala NF-Lochloosa-Paynes Prairie-Newnans Lake”. This FEGN project is
the highest priority project in
The strategic location of the LCR Project
on the east side of the county within an existing corridor of natural and
silvicultural properties that form a large connected area for wildlife and
natural resource conservation, is one of
the critical features of this project.
The area is a mosaic of public and private lands. Protection of this corridor is one of the
best opportunities to protect and enhance natural resource values in our
county, and more importantly it is of regional importance as one of several
possible corridors that connect
Approximately 10% of the LCR 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 40 % 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 (FNAI, June 2001).
About 25 % 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
Striped Newt -/- -/- R/S2S3 SM
American Alligator -/- T/SSC -/S4 SM
Canebrake Rattlesnake -/- -/S3 K
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake -/- -/- -/S3 SM,K
Eastern Indigo Snake -/- T/T SSC/S3 SM
Gopher Tortoise -/- -/SSC T/S3 F
Peninsula Mole Skink -/- -/- -/- SM
Short-tailed Snake X/- -/T T/S3 SM
Spotted Turtle -/- -/- R/S3? SM,N
Black-Crowned Night Heron -/- -/- SSC/S3? SM
Black Rail -/- -/- R/S3 SM
Great Egret -/- -/- SSC/S4 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,K
Wood Stork -/- E/E E/S2 SM
Bobcat -/L -/- -/- F
Northern Yellow Bat -/- -/- SU/- SM
River Otter -/- -/- -/- K
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.
Listed plants found on the property include cardinal flower, greenfly orchid, wild pink azalea, royal fern, and cinnamon fern (KBN, 1996).
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission data shows one bald eagle
nest on the project site and 16 others within two miles. The cluster of bald eagle nests around
About 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).
According to the KBN Study the only exotic plant found on the site was alligator weed and it was under effective biocontrol.
The area is dominated by silviculture and extensive good quality wetlands. Prescribed fire and invasive plant monitoring would be the primary tools. Management of this site would be fairly easy.
Achieving Social and Human Values:
Approximately 30% of the LCR area falls within a Priority one through four Natural Resource-based Recreation Area (Knight, et al. 2000), and is a priority 3 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 LCR 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 project would link the GRSCA with the LWCA and provide a larger more diverse area for recreational activities, and perhaps facilitate additional activities.
The LCR project site is easily accessible and relatively close to the urban areas. The property provides good opportunities for compatible resource based recreation.
Economic & Acquisition
There are 110 parcels and 34 ownerships in the 22,782 acre Lochloosa Creek Flatwoods Project. The Alachua County Property Appraiser (ACPA) shows 27 buildings on their parcel data. One ownership, Plum Creek, makes-up 86% of the total project acreage or 18,474 acres. The ACPA’s 2002 Just Value or land value for the entire project is $22,154,300 or $972/ acre. The ACPA’s total value (Just, Miscellaneous and Building) for the project area is $23,056,800 or $1012 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.
Three of the ownerships on the lower end of Lochloosa Creek are within the Lochloosa Wildlife Florida Forever Project. The project is on the “B” List under the “Small Parcels Projects” heading. This is defined as those acquisition projects that are important, but not of the highest priority, which are made up predominantly of small ownerships with individual values not exceeding one million dollars each, or individual acquisitions that are determined to achieve the Florida Forever goals, measures and criteria enough to qualify for acquisition but are valued at less than one million dollars. Florida Forever would contribute 45% of the purchase price. The SJRWMD is listed as an acquisition partner on the project, but they have not been contacted specifically on these parcels to determine their willingness to participate in the acquisition.
The Plum Creek properties, the parcels along Lochloosa Creek, and the Florida Forever parcels are the keystone parcels in the LCR Project, Map 3.
1)Plum Creek 18,474 acres
2)Brown (FL Forever) 851 acres
3)Colson 20 acres
4)Alachua Wade 500 acres
5)McMillan (FL Forever). 319 acres
6)Rayonier (FL Forever) 71 acres
Due to the extensive silvicultural operations in the area, conservation easements should certainly be an important component of the acquisition strategy for this area.
site falls within unincorporated
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 Company. 1996.
Macesich, M. 1988.
Geologic Interpretation of the Aquifer Pollution Potential in