Rapid Ecological Project Assessment
Matrix Score: 7.29 of 9.44
Size: 14,447 acres
Number of parcels: 44
Number of owners: 2
LOCATION / DESCRIPTION:
The 14,447 acre Northeast Flatwoods (NEF) Project is
located west of the City of
The Alachua County Ecological Inventory Project (KBN Study), ranked the Northeast Flatwoods 15th of 47 projects evaluated in the county, and categorized it as slightly above average, 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 KBN Study summarized the
Protecting Water Resources:
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 82% of the NEF project is wetlands, contains hydric soils, or falls within the FEMA 100 or 500 year flood hazard zone.
“This area is all underlain by the Hawthorn
Formation which precludes much percolation of water down into the Floridan
Aquifer. This is a large headwaters
area, and there are abundant wetlands on the property which provide surface
water storage. Most of the pine flatwoods
areas have been bedded in preparation for planting pines, and many wetlands
have probably been slightly to moderately drained. Most of the flow is to the north into the
As part of their 2003 Legislative Agenda,
Part of the NEF project is in the proposed SWIM area. Because Hatchet Creek discharges into
Protecting Natural Communities and Landscapes:
The above list of natural communities is from the KBN Report, KBN, 1996. The ecological quality of the natural communities is good in the wetlands and fair in the uplands. Most of the uplands are bedded slash pine plantations, KBN 1996.
The Project site is adjacent to
Approximately 90% of the project site is within the
Florida Ecological Greenways Network (FEGN).
About 80% is in an un-named priority 6 project area that connects San
Felasco Hammock State Park to the
The large size and strategic location of the NEF
Project makes it extremely valuable.
This project connects the large corridor of conservation lands and
wildlife habitat on the east side of the county to the
“This area [Northeast Flatwoods] is suitable habitat
for black bears and is big enough to be useful for them, and is well enough
connected to the Santa Fe River on [the] north to provide access” KBN,
1996. The eastern corridor and the
connection to the
Approximately 5% of the NEF 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 1% 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 NEF 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 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
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake -/- -/- -/S3 SM,N
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
Timber Rattlesnake N
Black Rail -/- -/- R/S3 SM
Cooper’s Hawk -/- -/- SSC/S3 SM
Little Blue Heron -/- -/SSC SSC/S4 SM
Osprey -/- -/- T/S3S4 SM
Wild Turkey -/L F
Wood Stork -/- E/E E/S2 SM
Bobcat -/L -/- -/- F
Northern Yellow Bat -/- -/- SU/- 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.
Bearded grass-pink, yellow butterwort, blue butterwort, hooded pitcher plant, Catesby’s lily, cinnamon fern, and royal 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 data shows two bald eagle nests within 2.5 miles of the NEF Project site.
Approximately 75% 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..
Two bald eagle nests are located on the project site and five others lie within two miles of the site.
Mimosa trees and taro were the only exotic plants noted on the property in the KBN Study.
Achieving Social and Human Values:
About 20% of the NEF is a Priority 2 Natural Resource-based Recreation Area, Knight, et al. 2000, and about 90% 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 NEF 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 enhance recreational opportunities in the northern part of the county.
Prescribed fire, and minimal invasive plant control would benefit the site. Prescribed burning should be feasible on this site.
Economic/ Acquisition Issues:
There are 44 parcels and 2 ownerships in the 14,447 acre NEF Project. The property appraiser shows no buildings or improvements on their parcel data for the NEF project area. The Alachua County Property Appraisers 2002 Just Value or land value for the entire project is $13,602,600 or $942/ 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.
Both ownerships should be considered keystone parcels. North American Timber Corporation owns 7,498 acres and Rayonier owns the remaining 6,949 acres, Map 3.
The current zoning is Agriculture and the Future Land Use is Rural
Agriculture. The NEF is not in the Urban
Services Area. However, approximately
3,200 acres of the NEF project is within the City of
There are two archeological sites within one mile of the NEF Project as listed on the Florida Master Site Files by the Division of Historical Resources.
Aucott, W. 1988. Water Resources Investigation Report 88-4057. USGS.
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