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Martin B. Main and Ginger M. Allen2 1. This document is WEC232, part of Florida's Environment series of the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date July 2007. Reviewed November 2010. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. 2. Martin B. Main, associate professor, wildlife extension specialist, and Ginger M. Allen, senior biologist, Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, Immokalee, FL; Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0304. Florida's Environment Series Much of north central Florida (Fig. 1 ) consists of upland ridges, highlands, and hammocks interspersed with interior flatwoods and coastal lowlands. Conservation lands constitute about 20 percent of the north central region of Florida (Table 1). Many temperate species of the southern hardwood forest ecosystem extend into this region and some of the largest hardwood hammocks in the state occur in this area. High pine communities dominated by longleaf pine and scrub habitats also exist. This area supports a high diversity of wildlife, including large numbers of migratory birds that travel along the Gulf coast. This area is characterized by many rivers, which cross the north central region on their way from large swamps in the northern highlands south to the Gulf of Mexico, emptying into the area known as the Big Bend (Fig. 2). Many springs fueled by the Floridan aquifer occur in the region and because of the porous limestone (karst) geology, many rivers disappear below ground only to emerge again some distance away. The Santa Fe, Steinhatchee, St. Marks, and Aucilla rivers all flow underground during part of their journey to the Gulf. North central Florida region with counties. Credits: UF/IFAS Bordering the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, the Big Bend coastal lowland of marshes, swamps, and pine flatwoods is currently one of the least developed regions of the state. Estuarine marshes occupy
Florida's Environment North Central Region 2 160,000 acres of coastline from Tarpon Springs to Apalachee Bay. This document summarizes major rivers, lakes and springs, featured natural areas, and cultural aspects of Florida's north central region. For information on other regions in Florida, refer to "The Florida Environment: An Overview" and the other seven regional profiles available online (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu). Conservation land acreage in Florida's north central region Alachua 82,640 15% Bradford 17,980 10% Columbia 135,990 27% Dixie 108,170 24% Gadsden 18,370 6% Gilchrist 7,090 3% Hamilton 23,750 7% Jefferson 92,830 27% Lafayette 30,070 9% Leon 143,730 34% Levy 162,040 23% Madison 14,050 3% Suwannee 14,940 3% Taylor 92,520 14% Union 7,630 5% Wakulla 240,920 62% 18%t Based on 2006 Florida Natural Area's Inventory Managed Conservation Lands. Florida State University. t The Suwannee River has the second greatest flow of any river in Florida (the Apalachicola River in northwest Florida has a higher flow). The Suwannee River has a drainage basin of almost 1,000 square miles and flows 245 miles from its source in the Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico, where it discharges into the Suwannee River estuary. The Suwannee is the only river in the eastern Gulf of Mexico that supports a healthy population of the Gulf subspecies of Atlantic Sturgeon, which spawn in the river. North central Florida major conservation lands. Credits: UF/IFAS The Floridan aquifer is at or near the Earth's surface in this region and freshwater from springs and rivers influence the high productivity of coastal waters. Madison County has more lakes and ponds than any other county in the region, although most of these are small and ephemeral. Larger lakes occur at either end of the region, with Lake Miccosukee, Lake Iamonia, Lake Jackson, and Lake Talquin reservoir at the northwest corner of the region, and Orange Lake, Lochloosa Lake, Newnans Lake, and Santa Fe Lake at the eastern edge of the region. (see Table 2 for complete list of natural areas) Located near the town of Chiefland in Levy County, the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge is one of largest undeveloped river delta-estuarine systems in the United States. It includes rivers, coastal marshes and hardwood swamp. California Swamp is an impressive mosaic of bald cypress, hickory, and sweet gum trees. This swamp serves as an important filtration system for the Suwannee River and provides important habitat for wildlife. There is a 32,000-acre conservation easement over the swamp, one of the largest conservation easements in Florida. The Suwannee River Water Management District holds the easement, which permanently restricts development and limits timber harvesting to sustainable practices. Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park is designated a National Natural Landmark. This 32,128-acre preserve consists of salt marsh, pine flatwoods, sand pine scrub, and hardwood hammock
Florida's Environment North Central Region 3 habitat that represents a relic of the once vast Gulf Hammock. Paynes Prairie Preserve is a 21,000-acre preserve that is among the most significant natural and historic areas in Florida. The preserve includes a 13,735-acre basin that is a mosaic of wet prairie, marsh, and open water. Surrounding uplands include hardwood hammock, pine flatwoods, swamps, old fields, and scrub habitats. This mosaic of habitats supports 710 species of plants, which represent approximately 20% of known Florida plant species. Recreational and cultural opportunities in natural areas in north central Florida. (WMA=Wildlife Management Area, NWR=National Wildlife Refuge) Alachua Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Historic Site (352) 466-3672 http://www.floridastateparks.org/ marjoriekinnanrawlings/ Alachua Palm Point Park (Newnans Lake) (352) 334-2170 http://www.cityofgainesville.org/tabid/182/ Default.aspx#GumRoot Alachua Newnan's Lake Fish Management Area (352) 371-1767 http://sjrwmd.com/recreationguide/newnaslake/ index.html Alachua Orange Lake Fish Management Area (850) 488-4676 http://floridaswater.com/publications/pdfs/ fs_orangecrbasin.pdf Alachua Lochloosa Wildlife Conservation Area (904) 329-4404 http://sjr.state.fl.us/programs/operations/land_mgmt/ index.html Alachua San Felasco Hammock State Park (352) 955-2008 http://www.floridastateparks.org/ sanfelascohammock/ Alachua Gum Root Park and Swamp (352) 334-2236 http://www.cityofgainesville.org/tabid/182/ Default.aspx#PalmPoint Alachua Prairie Creek Conservation Area (352) 446-3397 http://www.alachuaconservationtrust.org/ index.php?/alachua/archives/prairie-creek Alachua Paynes Prairie Preserve (352) 466-3397 http://www.floridastateparks.org/paynesprairie/ Alachua River Rise State Park (904) 454-4201 http://www.floridastateparks.org/riverrise/ Bradford Lake Sampson and Lake Rowell (904) 964-9374 http://myfwc.com/Recreation/FW_forecasts_ncr.htm Bradford Lake Santa Fe (352) 475-2844 http://myfwc.com/Recreation/FW_forecasts_ncr.htm Columbia Alligator Lake http://www.srwmd.state.fl.us/features/ cooperative+programs/alligator+lake/default1.htm Columbia Ichetucknee Springs State Park (904) 497-2511 http://www.floridastateparks.org/ ichetuckneesprings/ Columbia Osceola National Forest (904) 752-2577 http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/florida/recreation/ index_osc.shtml Columbia Pinhook Swamp (407) 682-3664 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/lands/FFAnnual/ B_PinhookSwamp.pdf Columbia Okefenokee Swamp NWR (912) 496-7366 http://www.fws.gov/okefenokee/ Columbia OLeno State Park (386) 454-1853 http://www.floridastateparks.org/oleno/ Dixie Lower Suwannee nNWR (352) 493-0238 http://www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/ index.cfm?id=41515 Gadsden/ nLeon Lake Talquin State Park (850) 922-6007 http://www.floridastateparks.org/laketalquin/ default.cfm One of the earliest known native groups living in the north central region were the Potano, who inhabited the Santa Fe River basin from approximately 10,000 BC until the arrival of the Spaniards during the 1600s. Many small tribes lived in north Florida during the time of European exploration, such as the Euchee, Yamasee, Timugua, Tequesta, Abalachi, Coa, among others.
Florida's Environment North Central Region 4 Recreational and cultural opportunities in natural areas in north central Florida. (WMA=Wildlife Management Area, NWR=National Wildlife Refuge) Gilchrist Ginnie Springs, nBlue Springs (904) 454 2202 (904) 454-1369 http://www.floridastateparks.org/bluespring/ http://www.ginniespringsoutdoors.com/ Gilchrist Fanning Springs State Park (352) 463-3420 http://www.floridastateparks.org/fanningsprings/ default.cfm Hamilton Withlacoochee River (North) Canoe Trail (352) 394-2280 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/guide/regions/north/ trails/withlacoochee.htm Hamilton Big Shoals State Forest (904) 208-1461 http://www.floridastateparks.org/bigshoals/ Hamilton Suwannee River nState Park (904) 362-2746 http://www.floridastateparks.org/suwanneeriver/ Jefferson Wacissa/Aucilla Rivers (850) 997-5552 http://www.floridadep.org/gwt/guide/regions/ panhandleeast/trails/wacissa.htm Jefferson Lake Miccosukee (850) 488-4676 NA Jefferson St. Mark's NWR (850) 925-6121 http://www.fws.gov/saintmarks/ Lafayette Mallory Swamp (850) 837-1253 http://myfwc.com/Recreation/ WMASites_MallorySwamp_index.htm Lafayette Troy Springs (904) 497-2511 http://www.floridastateparks.org/troyspring/ Leon/nGadsden/ nLiberty Lake Talquin State Forest http://www.fl-dof.com/state_forests/ lake_talquin.html Leon Natural Bridge Battlefield State Historic Site (850) 922-6007 http://www.floridastateparks.org/naturalbridge/ Leon San Marcos De Apalache State Historic Site (850) 922-6007 http://www.floridastateparks.org/sanmarcos/ Leon Lake Jackson Mounds State Archaeological Site (850) 922-6007 http://funandsun.com/parks/LakeJacksonMounds/ lakejackson.html Leon Tallahassee Museum of History/Natural Science (850) 576-1636 http://tallahasseemuseum.org/ Leon De Soto State Archaeological Site (850) 922-6007 http://www.visitflorida.com/articles/tracing-floridasnative-american-history Leon Apalachicola National Forest, Bradwell Bay Wilderness Area (850) 926-3561 http://apalachee.floridatrail.org/big-bend-area-trails/ apalachicola-national-forest-east/ Leon Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park (850) 488-4676 http://www.floridastateparks.org/lakejackson/ default.cfm Leon Leon Sinks Geological Area (850) 942-9300 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/guide/regions/ panhandleeast/trails/leon_sinks.htm Levy Big Bend WMAn Hickory Mound/Hagen's Cove (850) 838-1306 http://myfwc.com/Recreation/ WMASites_BigBend_index.htm Levy Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve (352) 5630450 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/bigbend/ info.htm Levy Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve (352) 543-5567 http://www.floridastateparks.org/cedarkeyscrub/ Levy Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park (352) 543-5567 http://www.floridastateparks.org/waccasassabay/ Levy Manatee Springs State Park (352) 493-6072 http://www.floridastateparks.org/manateesprings/ Levy Devil's Den/ Blue Grotto Springs, Blue Springs (352) 528-3344 (352) 486-9002 http://www.devilsDen.com http://www.floridastateparks.org/bluespring/ Levy Andrews WMA (352) 493-6020 http://myfwc.com/RECREATION/ View_Destinations_site-nw15.htm
Florida's Environment North Central Region 5 Recreational and cultural opportunities in natural areas in north central Florida. (WMA=Wildlife Management Area, NWR=National Wildlife Refuge) Levy Gulf Hammock WMA (352) 486-3006 http://myfwc.com/RECREATION/ WMASites_GulfHammock_index.htm Levy Goethe State Forest (352) 486-5494 http://www.fl-dof.com/state_forests/goethe.html Madison Ladell Brothers Outdoor Env. Center (850) -2288 http://www.nfcc.edu/community-programs/naturecenter Suwannee Suwannee River State Park (386) 362-2746 http://www.floridastateparks.org/suwanneeriver/ Suwannee Suwannee River http://www.srwmd.state.fl.us Suwannee Peacock Springs State Recreational Area (904) 776-2194 http://www.floridastateparks.org/peacocksprings/ Suwannee Suwannee Cultural Music Park (904) 364-1683 http://www.musicliveshere.com/ Suwannee Springs: Suwanee Royal, Little River, Branford, Anderson, Charles, Falmouth (904) 362-1001 http://www.suwanneechamber.com Taylor Econfina River State Park (850) 922-6007 http://www.floridastateparks.org/econfinariver/ Taylor Suwannee River Ranch (386) 935-0012 http://www.suwaneeriverranch.com/ Wakulla Apalachicola National Forest (Ochlockonee and Sopchoppy Rivers) (904) 942-9300 http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/florida/recreation/ index_apa.shtml Wakulla Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park (850) 224-5950 http://www.floridastateparks.org/wakullasprings/ Archaeological sites, primarily middens (trash heaps) and burial mounds, have been found at many sites. For example, archeological sites have been found along the Steinhatchee, Econfina, Wakulla, Sopchoppy, St. Marks, Wacissa, and Aucilla rivers. The Lake Jackson Mounds State Archeological Site has yielded some of the most significant archeological discoveries in Florida. The site was once a large ceremonial and trading center dating back to the Fort Walton period of Florida's history (1000-1450 A.D.). At least three mission settlements were built near the Santa Fe river before the end of the 17th century. Spaniards built the Fort San Marcos De Apalache in 1679 at the confluence of the St. Marks and Wakulla rivers. This same fort was later rebuilt and used by the Spanish, British, and later the Confederate Army during the Civil War. The Spanish operated a mission along the Suwannee River known as San Juan de Guacara, which may be the origin of the contemporary name for the Suwannee (San Juanee) River. The Suwannee and lower Santa Fe rivers, served as main transportation routes for goods and people between the interior of north central Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. Some rivers were modified to improve transportation, such as construction of the Slave Canal during the 1830s, which connected the Wacissa and Aucilla Rivers and provided a means to easily transport cotton from Jefferson County to the Gulf of Mexico. Much of the timber cut in north Florida and south Georgia during the late 19th and early 20th century was floated to Cedar Key and other coastal towns of the Big Bend that served as major shipping ports. Springs were important locations for early inhabitants. White Sulphur Springs was regarded by Native Americans as sacred ground for its curative powers. During the early 1900s the spring was promoted as a health resort and the spring water advertised as a cure for almost any ailment. By 1906, the spring had been converted into a bustling resort complete with shops and clinical examination rooms. Today, visitors can view a reconstructed springhouse at the Stephen Foster State Park.
Florida's Environment North Central Region 6 Allen, G.M. and M.B. Main. 2005. Florida's Geological History. Fact Sheet WEC 189, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. Bense, J. A. ed. 1999. Archaeology of Colonial Pensacola, Florida Museum of Natural History: Ripley P. Bullen Series, Gainesville, FL. Cerulean, S. and A. Morrow. 1998. Florida Wildlife Viewing Guide. Falcon Publishing. Helena, MT. Fernald, E. A. and E. D. Prudum, eds. 1998. Water Resources Atlas of Florida. Institute of Science and Public Affairs. Tallahassee, FL. Florida Department of Natural Resources. 1989. Florida Rivers Assessment. Florida Department of Natural Resources. Tallahassee, FL. Gannon, M., ed. 1996. The New History of Florida. Univ. Press of Florida. Gainesville, FL. Karim, A. and M.B. Main. 2004. Tropical Hardwood Hammocks in Florida. Fact Sheet WEC 181, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. Kavanagh, J. ed. 1997. The Nature of Florida : An Introduction to Common Plants & Animals n& Natural Attractions (Field Guides Series) Waterford Press, Phoenix, AZ. Kleinberg, E. 1997. Historical Traveler's Guide to Florida. Pineapple Press, Sarasota, FL. Laurie M., and D. Bardon. 1998. Florida's Museums and Cultural Attractions. Pineapple Press, Sarasota, FL. Main M.B., and G.M. Allen. 2005. Florida State Symbols. Circular 1467, Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. Main M.B. M.E. Swisher, J. Mullahey, W. DeBusk, A. J. Shriar, G. W. Tanner, J. Selph, P. Hogue, P. Bohlen and G. M. Allen. 2004. The Ecology and Economics of Florida's Ranches. Fact Sheet WEC 187, Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. Main M.B., and G.W. Tanner. 1999. Effects of Fire on Florida's Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat. Fact Sheet WEC 137, Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. Meyers, Ronald L. & John J. Ewel, eds. 1990. Ecosystems of Florida. University of Central Florida Press. Orlando, FL. Milanich, J. T. 1998. Florida Indians from Ancient Times to the Present. University of Florida Press. Gainesville, FL. Milanich, Jerald T. 1995. Florida Indians and the Invasion from Europe. University of Florida Press. Gainesville, FL. Nelson, G. 1995. Exploring Wild Northwest Florida. Pineapple Press, Sarasota, FL. Ohr, T. 1998. Florida's Fabulous Natural Places. World Publications, Tampa, FL. Perry J., and J. G. Perry 1992. The Sierra Club Guide to the Natural Areas of Florida. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, CA. Ripple, J. 1997. Florida: The Natural Wonders. Voyageur Press, Osceola, WI. Stamm D., and D. R. Stamm. 1998. The Springs of Florida. Pineapple Press, Sarasota, FL. Winsberg, M. D. 1997. Florida's History Through Its Places: Properties in the National Register of Historic Places, University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL.
Florida's Environment North Central Region 7 Florida Division of Historical Resources, http://www.flheritage.com/ Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission Wildlife Viewing Sites, http://www.myfwc.com/recreation/View_index.htm Florida's Historic Places, http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/florida/lessons/places.htm Florida's Museum of Natural History, http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/ Florida Natural Areas Inventory, http://www.fnai.org/ Florida's Scenic Highways, http://www.floridascenichighways.com/ Florida State Parks, http://www.floridastateparks.org/ Florida Water Management Districts, http://dlis.dos.state.fl.us/fgils/wmd.html P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History, http://web.uflib.ufl.edu/spec/pkyonge/index.html Touring the Georgia-Florida Coast, http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/geo-flor/gfintro.htm Visit Florida, http://www.visitflorida.com