Management Plan for the Integrated Habitat Network / Coordinated Development Area: Lease Nos. 3963, 3995, and 4236
When the various properties were leased to the BMR, there was little information available at the time regarding existing conditions on the parcels. Property boundaries were undefined, access to the sites was often restricted, off-site infringements were a continuing problem, the extent of renewable and non-renewable resources was unknown, and the presence of hazardous conditions resulting from phosphate-mining activities were just some of the problems in existence. The following is a description of what was known of the resources on the BMR-leased parcels in 2002.
Areas in the IHN that were merely clear-cut for timber or grazed by cattle may contain intact resources below the area of disturbance. However, high-impact activities, such as phosphate mining or power plant construction, likely had an adverse effect on any archaeological or historical resources that may have been present. During the development of the management plan for the IHN, a review was conducted of the Division of Historical Resources’ (“DHR”) database for possible archaeologically sensitive areas in the lands managed by the BMR. Results indicated that recorded sites along the banks of the Peace River appeared to be lithic scatters and were probably not significant sites. Because of significant mining activities in the vicinity, it is not known if any of these sites still exist.
Data records for those portions of the IHN acquired by the State not leased to the BMR have not yet been reviewed by the DHR. The BMR recognizes the importance of Section 267.061, FS regarding the protection and interpretation of archaeological and historical sites and will adhere to DHR guidelines recommending conservation until the resources have been better addressed by the DHR.
Outstanding/Unique Natural Features
Because of the amount of human-related activity in this area, the greatest possibility for the presence of outstanding native landscapes with relatively unaltered flora, fauna, or geological conditions is in the southern portion of the mining district, not on the BMR leases. However, the BMR will continue to conduct field surveys and database reviews of its leases to identify and locate any remnant communities, populations, or natural features that may have gone undetected. The BMR will emphasize the protection and preservation of any outstanding or unique natural features that currently exist or which may be found on IHN lands within the realm of this management plan. Outstanding and unique natural features that are discovered on lands under review for development or impact will be protected through the Environmental Resource Permit process and associated long-term maintenance and protection mechanisms.
The IHN is predominantly streams and rivers with adjacent floodplains and some isolated reclaimed uplands. The soils typically found in and near the Peace River in Polk County include Neilhurst sand, Nittaw sandy clay loam, Bradenton fine sand, Bradenton-Felda-Chobee association, and Chobee fine sandy loam. In Hillsborough County, the main soil type in the floodplain of the Alafia River was Winder fine sand. The phosphate mining, by-product disposal, and reclamation activities that occurred in some portions of the IHN resulted in soil types that are very different from the original soils. The soils typically produced by phosphate mining operations include Hydraquents, Arents-water complex, Haplaquents, and Arents, all of which are highly unsuited to development due to high clay or water content.
The BMR has found no records of oil, gas, or remnant phosphate resources of economic importance in the BMR-managed portions of the IHN management plan area. The BMR has no plans to attempt to locate and/or use any resources that may be discovered. Phosphate and sand reserves do exist in various grades and quantities within areas under a PCE and/or Conservation Agreement; the easements and agreements state that there will be no exploration for or exploitation of mineral resources within the protected lands.
Water resources in the IHN include natural rivers and streams, reclaimed lakes and streams, and unreclaimed mine cuts and clay settling areas created by phosphate mining activities. The predominant bodies of natural water in those areas of the IHN managed by the BMR are the Peace and Alafia Rivers and Bowlegs, Little Payne, Payne, and Horse Creeks. These rivers and streams have been labeled Class III waterbodies but are not designated as Outstanding Florida Waters. The reclaimed and unreclaimed streams, lakes, clay settling areas, and water-filled mine cuts in the area are of varying quality but are considered Class III waters. BMR staff is working with state, regional, and local agencies and private landowners to restore the drainage basins and floodplains of Saddle, Six-Mile, McCullough, and Whidden Creeks and Camp Meeting Ground Branch that were adversely affected by phosphate mining in the area.
Except for the Jahna Ranch tract, which is within the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern, the tracts in the IHN are not within an aquatic preserve or designated Area of Critical State Concern nor are they under study for such designation. However, wetlands in the IHN provide important ecosystem functions (such as flood mitigation, storm abatement, aquifer recharge, and water quality improvement) and make the IHN extremely important to downstream waters that may be in an aquatic preserve or a designated Area of Critical State Concern. BMR management staff plans to protect and conserve water resources by employing site-specific management guidelines to address the varying conditions on the individual tracts within the IHN.
Vegetation and land use surveys are underway in the Coastal Settlement lands under lease to the BMR, but have not yet been conducted on the majority of the lands within the IHN. Consequently, aerials (1994), LANDSAT maps (1986), and the Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System (1985) were used to identify possible habitat types present on the parcels. The generalized habitat types include: Urban and Built-Up (Extractive and Recreational); Agriculture; Rangeland; Upland Forest ; Water; Wetlands; and Barren Land.
Detailed examinations of all the tracts within the IHN are needed to determine the habitat types and plant species that are actually present. BMR staff and/or private contractors who are familiar with the floral species of Florida have begun conducting site-specific surveys of the IHN lands, with emphasis on locating listed species. Results of these surveys will be used to develop site-specific management activities, including the use of nuisance and exotic species control, supplemental planting, timber harvests, and prescribed burns.
The Florida Natural Areas Inventory (“FNAI”) and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission conducted database reviews of the BMR-leased portions of the IHN in April 1999. The FNAI database contained records of several wildlife species of interest either in or within one mile of the areas examined. The FNAI listed numerous Element Occurrence Records of several wildlife species of interest either within or near the approximate boundaries of the BMR leases along the Peace and Alafia River tracts. The FFWCC review of its species occurrence databases revealed no records of state or federally listed wildlife or plant species in these BMR-leased areas.
Site-specific surveys of lands in the IHN need to be conducted to determine the current existence and status of listed species, with the surveys to be conducted by individuals familiar with Florida ’s fauna. Results will be used to determine the appropriate management activities needed to protect and preserve the existing wildlife and enhance conditions to promote and sustain their presence on the property.
Last updated: June 30, 2015
2600 Blair Stone Road M.S. 3500
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
850-245-8336 (phone) / 850-245-8356 (fax)