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Corner of tab Management Plan for the Integrated Habitat Network / Coordinated Development Area: Lease Nos. 3963, 3995, and 4236

Property

 

The BMR is currently the lessee and manager of approximately 5,600 acres of State-owned land along the Peace and Alafia Rivers. In cooperation with landowners and the DSL, the BMR is also involved in the development of easement agreements and management plans and in the supervision of landowners activities on IHN lands committed to habitat management through conservation easement or deed restrictions. The BMR is currently the designated managing agency for over 22,000 acres of Perpetual Conservation Easements ("PCEs") in the phosphate mining district and the Green Swamp. Other properties within the confines of the IHN that are currently undergoing permit negotiations may eventually be defined and codified as PCEs and assigned to the BMR for management.

The aggregation of disjunct properties comprising the IHN is located in the southern phosphate district in west central Florida. Two main categories of lands are found within the IHN - those acquired by the State and leased to appropriate managing agencies and those owned and managed by public or private entities. The State-owned lands have been acquired through settlement, donation, conservation easement/agreement, purchase, or regulatory action. Some of these lands have already been formally leased to the BMR for management; it is likely that other lands owned by the State may eventually become the management or monitoring responsibility of the BMR. The voluntary cooperation of the public and private owners whose lands are considered a significant part of the IHN is essential to attaining the goals of this plan.

Existing IHN Lands

Brief descriptions of the lands currently included in the IHN management plan are provided below.  [Links will open in a new browser window.]

Coastal Settlement

CS 1 - The North Prong Alafia tract, part of the Mobil Mining and Minerals Company (“Mobil”) portion of the Coastal Settlement, consists of approximately 234 acres.  This tract is currently patrolled by BMR personnel. A land surveying company under contract with the DSL has completed a boundary survey of a portion of the North Prong of the Alafia River.  BMR staff worked with the surveying company to post this parcel with IHN signs during the fall/winter of 2002.  View site aerial (200k)

CS 2 - The Alafia River State Recreation Area tract contains 960 acres of Coastal Settlement lands that were originally owned by American Cyanamid Company and later by Brewster Phosphates, Inc. (“Cytec”).  Only the floodplains along the South Prong Alafia River that are inside this tract were transferred to the State as part of the Coastal Settlement and are currently co-managed by the DRP and BMR. View site aerial(200k)

CS 3 - The South Prong Alafia River tract, another portion of the Coastal Settlement lands that was owned by Cytec, is approximately 135 acres in size and is currently patrolled by BMR personnel. Boundary delineations and marking were deemed unnecessary due to its inaccessibility to the public.  View site aerial (200k) 

CS 4 - The Clear Springs tract, originally part or the IMC Phosphates Company (“IMC”) portion of the Coastal Settlement, is approximately 1,439 acres in size and is currently patrolled by BMR personnel. The contracted land surveying company completed boundary surveys of this parcel in 2004; boundary signs were installed where necessary by BMR staff. Comprehensive mapping of land use cover types and significant features was completed using Global Information System/Global Positioning System ("GIS/GPS") technologies by BMR staff in 2004.  View site aerial (200k)

CS 5 - The 1,709-acre Homeland tract, part of the Mobil portion of the Coastal Settlement, is the site of the DEP’s Homeland Field Office for personnel of the BMR and Bureau of Invasive Plant Management. Structures and improvements on this parcel include an office building, several storage buildings for vehicles, boats, and maintenance equipment, and a paved entrance road and parking area. The BMR staff has also constructed a native plant nursery at Homeland to develop stock for use in reclamation activities and research projects within the IHN. According to Lease No. 3963, the Homeland tract also serves as the headquarters of the DEP’s Mined Lands Research Center; current research efforts include the production and use of native vegetation in reclamation projects, control of nuisance and exotic vegetation, and development of Best Management Practices ("BMPs") for reclaimed lands.  View site aerial (200k)

CS 6 - The Bowlegs Creek tract, the Estech, Inc. portion of the Coastal Settlement, is approximately 921 acres in size and is patrolled by BMR personnel. The Florida Rangers, Inc., a church youth group in Ft. Meade, aids management activities through a formalized volunteer organization agreement. The contracted land surveying company delineated portions of this parcel in 2003 and boundary signs have been posted in an attempt to curtail the continuing problem with illegal hunting on the property.  View site aerial (200k)

CS 7 - The 366-acre South Peace River tract, originally part of the Mobil portion of the Coastal Settlement, is surrounded by the active South Ft. Meade Mine, which is currently owned by Mosaic Phosphates, Inc. ("Mosaic"). BMR personnel currently patrol this tract; boundary delineation and marking are scheduled to occur within the next few years.  View site aerial (200k)

CS 8 - The Little Payne Creek tract was part of the Coastal Settlement lands owned by Agrico Chemical Company. This tract, approximately 299 acres in size, is monitored by BMR staff.  View site aerial (200k)

CS 9 - The 214-acre Department of Juvenile Justice (originally included as a portion of the Homeland property) is leased to that agency for use as a juvenile detention facility. The facility is currently not in operation; future status of the tract is uncertain at this time.   View site aerial (200k)

Donation

D 1 - The BMR-managed portion of the donated Alafia River State Recreation Area tract is a 1,400-acre area containing recently reclaimed phosphate-mined lands. A 16-year minerals lease encumbers the land with royalties payable to Cytec. A $30.5 million bond held by Hillsborough County secures the reclamation obligations of Mosaic and Cytec. The BMR is currently monitoring the reclamation activity on this parcel. When Mosaic completes reclamation and the requirements have been satisfied, the land will revert to the DRP for management.  View site aerial (200k)

D 2 - The DRP-managed portion of the donated Alafia River State Recreation Area tract contains lands that were given to the State by Cytec. This approximately 5,200-acre parcel is currently in use as a public park and recreation area with restrictive covenants to ensure these uses.  View site aerial (200k)

Conservation Easement/Agreement

CE 1 - The Four Corners Mine tract in Hillsborough and Manatee Counties is a two-phased conservation easement that was executed in May 2004.  Phase I consists of 3,243 acres in 25-year floodplains in the Lonesome and Four Corners Mine Areas and 200 acres of enhanced wildlife habitat associated with Mosaic’s Manatee County Wellfield Site.  The second phase is to be composed of adjacent lands reclaimed to wildlife habitat that will be identified following the completion of mining and reclamation.  The BMR will monitor Mosaic’s reclamation activities on the PCE; following release from State regulations the tract will be offered either to Hillsborough County or the FFWCC for management. View site aerial (200K)

CE 2 - The FPC Hines tract consists of lands located at the headwaters of Camp Meeting Branch, Barber Branch, McCullough Creek, and Six Mile Creek, all tributaries to the Peace River.   Progress Energy, formerly Florida Power Corporation (“FPC”), provided 1,575 acres of these lands for a perpetual conservation easement on May 3, 2002.  Located on the east side of the power plant’s property, the BMR has been designated to serve as the managing agency for this tract.  View site aerial (200K)

CE 3- Mosaic’s Manson Jenkins (West Fork of Horse Creek Headwaters) tract is a two-phased PCE that consists of not less than 521 acres. The first phase consists of not less than 182 acres of preserved floodplain and surrounding uplands of the West Fork of Horse Creek. This portion of the easement has been executed and filed. The second phase will consist of not less than 339 acres of “created wetlands and encompassed stream associated with the West Fork of Horse Creek”. The legal description of the second phase will be incorporated as an amendment to the existing PCE within time certain of BMR’s approval of final reclamation/mitigation contours. Mosaic will manage and the BMR will monitor the land through the release of reclamation and mitigation. Following release, the BMR will provide basic management of the protected property.  View site aerial (200K)

CE 4 - The Hardee Lakes (Payne Creek floodplain portion of Hardee Lakes Park) tract is located in northwestern Hardee County along the west side of Payne Creek.  In June 2000, IMC-Agrico Company (now Mosaic) conveyed the 1,261-acre Hardee Lakes Park to the county.  The 441-acre floodplain and reclaimed wetland portions of the park are included in the executed PCE to the DEP.  Reclamation has been completed in this tract; Hardee County is managing the entire park and the BMR is monitoring the PCE. View site aerial (200K)

CE 5 - The Hooker’s Prairie Link tract is approximately 442 acres in size. FPC gave this executed PCE to the DEP as an environmental consideration for its Hines Power Facility Site Certification in 1994. Any land management required will be the responsibility of the landowner and be monitored by the BMR. Preliminary evaluation of this PCE was completed by BMR staff in the summer of 2005.  View site aerial (200K)

CE 6 - The 15-acre Camp Meeting Ground Branch tract is an easement that is managed by a private landowner whose activities are monitored by the BMR.  View site aerial (200K)

CE 7 - CF Industries’ South Pasture Mine conservation agreement tract, located in Hardee County, was the result of pre-application discussions between the company and the BMR.  At the time of its development, the preservation plan created for the mine contained approximately 1,532 acres of wetland and upland habitat within the mine and 566 acres on adjacent CF Industries’ property north of the mine.  The preserved areas will serve as the core habitat for the mine’s reclamation and greenway plan, with exact boundaries and acreages to be determined as the reclamation is completed.  View site aerial (200K)

CE 8 - The Jahna Ranch tract, owned by E.R. Jahna Industries, Inc. ("Jahna"), is located in northern Polk County in the core area of the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern. As a result of lengthy negotiations between Jahna, the DEP, the Florida Department of Community Affairs, and The Nature Conservancy, approximately 5,775 acres of natural habitat are protected through a PCE. Following BOT approval of the overall land transaction, finalization of the life-of-the-mine permit issuance and land acquisition were completed on October 25, 2001. Jahna will actively manage the protected property; the BMR is the designated managing agency with monitoring responsibility.  View site aerial (200K)

CE 9 - The Pickle Wetland South Prong Alafia River (Kingsford Complex), approximately 44 acres in size, is currently owned by Mosaic. It was placed under a PCE to the DEP in April 2005 as a resolution to Consent Order 94-0661. The BMR is monitoring the mitigation requirements being undertaken by Mosaic.  View site aerial (200K)

CE 10 - The Charles David Grimes Property conservation easement tract, approximately 1,247 acres in size, is also located in northern Polk County in the core area of the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern. The BMR is the designated managing agency with monitoring responsibility.  View site aerial (200K)

CE 11 - Hooker’s Prairie Southeast conservation easement was granted to the State by Seminole Fertilizer Corporation in 1990.  The BMR is the designated managing agency with monitoring responsibility for this approximately 261-acre tract which is located south of Highway 630 in Polk County. View site aerial (200K)

Acquisition

A 1 - The Southwest Florida Water Management District purchased the 3,535-acre site from Old Florida Plantation, Ltd in 2003 and later purchased an adjoining 590 acres of the eastern shore of Lake Hancock. SWFWMD is developing several projects to restore the water quality and functionality of this 4,519-acre lake as well as the entire Peace River system from the Green Swamp to Charlotte Harbor.  View site aerial (200K)

Adjacent Lands

Several significant federal, state, or local land and water resources are located within the IHN that will provide wildlife habitat, improved water quality, and connections between various river systems. These areas include: Tenoroc Fish Management Area, Alderman Ford Park, Alafia River State Recreation Area, Payne Creek State Historic Site, the Polk County Saddle Creek and IMC-Peace River parks, and SWFWMD’s Medard Park.

Other nearby existing or proposed public lands with significant land and water resources include: portions of the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern, Myakka River State Park, Lake Wales Ridge Ecosystem, Avon Park Bombing Range, Brighthour Watershed, Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area, Catfish Creek State Preserve, and Disney Wilderness Preserve.

The Statewide Greenways System is expected to connect the significant land and water resources on and near the IHN lands with nearby regional hubs and linkages such as the Green Swamp, Tampa Bay, Charlotte Harbor, and the Kissimmee River. The efficacy of the IHN greenways system in the region would be greatly enhanced by these connections. Likewise, currently disjointed tracts within the IHN could be connected and enhanced by the States’ acquisition of nearby parcels owned by various private or corporate landowners. The Polk County and Hillsborough County Land Acquisition Programs provide another means of preserving or protecting significant lands in the IHN.

Other tributaries to the Peace River that were historically impacted by mining operations are listed in the Nonmandatory Phosphate Reclamation Rules (Chapter 62C-17, Florida Administrative Code/Zellars-Williams Report incorporated) as areas in need of restoration. These areas are an important part of the IHN and are critical to the return of quality flows to the Peace River. Through the Nonmandatory Reclamation and Acquisition programs, the BMR is working with private landowners to improve these important tributaries and their sub-basins.

Just as there are significant areas within and near the IHN that would benefit this system, there are also adjacent properties with land uses that may conflict with the planned uses of the IHN. Land uses such as residential/industrial development, intensive recreation usage, and continuing phosphate mining operations, as well as conflicting management strategies on nearby lands for controlled burns, livestock grazing, and nuisance/exotic species control, all pose potential conflicts with the BMR-managed lands. The BMR is working with these adjacent property owners to ensure that lands within the IHN are protected and preserved for maximum public benefit.

Proposed IHN Lands

Approvals of conservation easements/agreements for the Hooker's Prairie, South Fort Green, Ona/Fort Green, South Fort Meade, and South Pasture phosphate mines are under consideration in pending reclamation plans and permit applications. The boundaries of the lands to be included in the IHN in these easements will be defined and codified upon a date or event certain. Lands within other properties (Hardee County, Ona, and Pine Level phosphate mines) are undergoing pre-application considerations; portions of these lands may eventually be included in easements or agreements.

The BMR is also working with the DSL on pending donations from various companies. As with other State-acquired lands, these donated lands will be transferred to the BOT through normal DSL procedures and then leased by the DSL to an appropriate managing agency.

The Circle B-Bar Reserve was acquired jointly by the Polk County Environmental Lands Program and the SWFWMD to protect the floodplain of Lake Hancock and to restore the Banana Creek marsh. Restoration projects are planned for this marsh system which runs through the center of the reserve and a scrub area on the southern part of the property. Restoration of the marsh system will help to restore the original hydrologic function of the area; restoration of the scrub will benefit wildlife that utilize both it and the marsh at various times during their life cycles.

Other areas of note that may become part of the Integrated Habitat Network through easement or agreement, deed restriction, donation, exchange, acquisition, or regulatory action include lands, among others, near McCullough Creek, Whidden Creek, Camp Meeting Ground Branch, the Peace River and the South Prong of the Alafia River.

CDA Lands

As explained in "A Regional Conceptual Plan for the Southern Phosphate District of Florida" (published in July 1992) and the draft "Guidelines for the Reclamation, Management, and Disposition of Lands Within the Southern Phosphate District of Florida" (originally compiled in 1993), the overall goal for the phosphate district is a plan that incorporates: a) environmental, economic, and some political impacts; b) considers the drainage and hydrologic restoration, future land use, and critical habitat replacement for lands affected by phosphate mining; and, c) provides for wildlife corridor connections to outlying preserved lands, protection of regional water resources, and protection of non-intensive land uses. To achieve this, the plan will be based on the drainage basin or sub-basin with the stream channel (either mined or unmined) becoming the focal point. Moving out from the stream channel, the floodplain would be reclaimed to provide for annual flooding yet contain a 100-year flood event. Adjacent to the floodplain will be a buffer zone of habitats considered “critical” and in need of protection. In general, these reports recommend a progression from less intensive land uses near the floodplain to more intensive uses as the distance from the floodplain increases. Improved pasture, cropland, and citrus groves are among the semi-intensive and intensive land uses which will be situated as far as possible from the floodplains to limit adverse impacts. It is these semi-intensive and intensive land uses that comprise the Coordinated Development Area of the IHN/CDA concept. The integrated, flexible management approaches within these semi-intensive and intensive land uses will incorporate sustainable or best management practices that will benefit the biological and physical resources of the area.

Last updated: September 21, 2011

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