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

Summary

 

The Bureau of Mine Reclamation outlined its concept for the Integrated Habitat Network plan in 1992 in its publication "A Regional Conceptual Reclamation Plan for the Southern Phosphate District of Florida". The largely undisturbed lands in the riverine floodplains that were transferred to the State pursuant to the Coastal Settlement were to become the “core” lands of the Integrated Habitat Network while the adjacent reclaimed “buffer” lands of the Coordinated Development Area were to compliment and enhance the habitat value of the core lands. With appropriate management, these areas would benefit the water quality and quantity in the area, improve wildlife habitat, and serve as connections between the mining region’s rivers and significant environmental features outside the mining region. The Bureau of Mine Reclamation envisioned that the plan would become a guide for the reclamation of mined phosphate lands throughout the southern phosphate district and began promoting the plan through numerous publications and meetings.

In 2002, the Bureau of Mine Reclamation published the "Management Plan for the Integrated Habitat Network: Lease Nos. 3963 and 3995". This management plan was developed to coordinate basic management activities for long-term protection of the greenways/wildlife corridors, wildlife habitat, and riparian buffers within the Integrated Habitat Network. During the development of this IHN management plan, the BMR had to take into consideration the existing and proposed land uses; recommendations and requirements of other agencies and organizations working in cooperation with the BMR; the purposes, restrictions, and requirements of the Coastal Petroleum Litigation Settlement Agreement; limitations and requirements of the leases and lease amendments; applicable phosphate mine reclamation and restoration requirements; and, the existing problems and needs of the property.

By 2006, 23 parcels had become part of the Integrated Habitat Network through settlement, conservation easement/agreement, donation, or acquisition. Since the original publication, an historic site was added to the Department of State’s Master Site File, resource mapping revealed the presence of several listed species on these lands, and coordinated efforts with other agencies were underway to protect water resources and wildlife within the Integrated Habitat Network. Some of the proposed “pending” conservation easements/agreements listed in the 2002 management plan had either been finalized or deleted from the plan, some had been increased or reduced in size, and some were new tracts that had been added. The original management plan was updated in 2006 to include the changes and achievements that had occurred since the original plan was published; the revised document became the "Management Plan for the Integrated Habitat Network/Coordinated Development Area: Lease Nos. 3963, 3995, and 4236".

The parcels leased to the Bureau of Mine Reclamation are a complex mixture of diverse habitats and wildlife, different lease and agreement requirements, and assorted management and monitoring needs, with the leases covering primarily undisturbed lands within the floodplains of the Peace and Alafia River systems and the adjacent reclaimed buffer lands. The complexity and diversity of these lands, along with the lack of detailed information for the individual parcels, necessitated that the initial management activities undertaken by the Bureau of Mine Reclamation were the identification of property boundaries, creation or enhancement of access sites, security and protection of the lands, and the identification and location of existing resources. Following the completion of these initial tasks, the Bureau of Mine Reclamation staff is addressing additional issues associated with its leases and is currently in the process of determining long-term management needs for these parcels.

As part of its goal to have a holistically planned and functioning landscape via the Integrated Habitat Network/Coordinated Development Area concept, the Bureau of Mine Reclamation is coordinating with other agencies on several ambitious projects within this area. One project currently underway is the restoration of the disturbed ecological and hydrological functions in the heavily mined Saddle Creek and the Upper Peace River watershed, where surface water flow will be of paramount importance in the placement and success of mitigation wetlands in this area. The restoration of the Upper Peace River watershed is a major step in another significant project under in the Peace River basin. In 2003, the Florida Legislature mandated a study of the cumulative effects on landforms and hydrology primarily due to mining, agriculture, and urbanization in the Peace River basin. The results of this study are to be used to prepare a management plan for the Peace River basin to minimize existing and potential future adverse cumulative impacts to the resources of the basin. The third major project the Bureau is involved in is the development of a Mined Lands Agricultural Research and Education Center in the southern phosphate-mining district. The main goals of this project are to address various uses of reclaimed lands for semi-intensive and intensive agriculture, to develop Best Management Practices for phosphate mine reclamation activities, and to serve as a reclamation and environmental education facility for the public.

The complexity, varied needs, and long-range plans for the lands within the Integrated Habitat Network/Coordinated Development Area make them incompatible with the current philosophies and strategies of most other land management agencies. The Bureau of Mine Reclamation’s regulatory presence and familiarity with the central Florida phosphate mining district, as well as the commitment and experience of its staff, render it extremely qualified to provide, develop, conduct, assist, and monitor basic management activities for long-term protection as well as to coordinate and supervise wide-ranging projects designed to improve habitat quality within the Integrated Habitat Network/Coordinated Development Area lands. The Department of Environmental Protection’s endorsement of the Bureau of Mine Reclamation’s work in the Integrated Habitat Network/Coordinated Development Area provides further support of the Bureau’s involvement in active land management.

Last updated: September 21, 2011

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