ECONLOCKHATCHEE RIVER BASIN
NATURAL RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT AND
CRITICAL AREAS MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION PLAN
Final Report to St. Johns River Water Management District
Mark T. Brown and Charles S. Luthin
Center for Wetlands
University of Florida
Urban Wildlife Program
Department of Wildlife and Range Sciences
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida
John Tucker and Richard Hamann
Center for Governmental Responsibility
University of Florida
Lucy Wayne and Martin Dickinson
TABLE OF CONTENTS
VOLUME I: RESOURCE INVENTORIES
Summary and Recommendations
Chapter 1: Water Resources
Chapter 2: Terrestrial and Wetland Resources
Chapter 3: Wildlife Resources
Chapter 4: Historical Resources
VOLUME II: REGULATORY FRAMEWORK OF THE ECONLOCKHATCHEE RIVER
Land Use Planning and Regulations
Significant Development Structures and Activities
VOLUME III: CRITICAL AREAS MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION PLAN
Management and Development Guidelines
Summary and Recommendations
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION ......................................................... 1
Statement of the Problem ................................... ........... 1
Identification of Critical Areas ................................... ....... 2
Area 1. Urbanized portions of the Little Econ upstream of University
Area 2. Headwaters of the Big Econ River south of the Beeline
Area 3. Xeric scrub communities of the Big Econ Basin. ........... 3
Area 4. River corridor of the Big Econ and the portion of Little
Econ north of University Blvd.......................... 3
Area 5. Floodplain wetlands of the Big Econ and Little Econ ......... 3
Area 6. Lower Reach of the Econ River adjacent to the St. Johns
River ................ ....................... 3
Area 7. Potential wildlands corridors connecting the Big Econ with
Seminole Ranch, Tosahatchee Preserve, and Lake Mary Jane
Wetlands and corridor connecting Big and Little Econ
Rivers. ......................................... 4
MANAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT GUIDELINES ............................. 5
Guidelines W within Critical Areas ......................................... 5
Area 1. Urbanized portions of the Little Econ upstream of University
Area 2. Headwaters of the Big Econ River south of the Beeline
Highway................. ...................... 6
Area 3. Xeric scrub communities of the Big Econ Basin. ........... 6
Area 5. Floodplain wetlands of the Big Econ and Little Econ ......... 7
Area 6. Lower Reach of the Econ River adjacent to the St. Johns
River. ................ ......................... 9
Area 7. Potential wildlands corridors connecting the Big Econ
Conservation Zone with other wildlands. ................. 9
Guidelines Outside Critical Areas ........................... 11
Maintaining Habitat Values of Critical Areas ......................... 11
Managing Developed Areas for Wildlife ............................ 12
REGULATORY INITIATIVES ............................................... 17
M SSW Permitting ............................................ 17
Stormwater Permitting ......................................... 18
Preservation and Conservation Zones ............................... 18
Outstanding Florida W aters ..................................... 20
Water Quality Based Effluent Limitations (WQBEL) Level II Process ........ 21
Developments of Regional Impact (DRI or DRIs) ...................... 21
Interim Development Controls ................................... 22
ACQUISITION SUGGESTIONS ..................... .... ..................... 25
Specific Acquisition Suggestions ..................................... .. 25
Lower Econ CARL Application .................................. 25
ICP Property North of and Adjacent to the Beeline Highway .............. 25
Rybolt Property .............................................. 26
General Acquisition Suggestions ........................................ 26
Big Econlockhatchee River Headwaters ............................. 26
W wildlife Corridors ............................................ 26
WC#1: Lake Price/South Branch Creek Corridor ...................... 27
WC#2: Long Branch Corridor ................................... 27
WC#3: Little Creek/Second Creek Corridor .......................... 27
WC#4: Green Branch/Crosby Island Marsh Corridor ................... 27
SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH ................ 29
Summary ........................................................ 29
Suggestions for an Integrated Management and Protection Plan ............ 29
Recommendations for Further Research ................................. . 30
W ater Resources ............................................. 30
Wetland and Terrestrial Communities .............................. 30
Wildlife Surveys ................................ ............ 30
Historical Site Survey and Model ................................. 31
Basinwide Natural Resource Development and Protection Plan ............. 31
We are grateful to Tom Ziegler and the staff of the St. Johns River Water Management District
in Palatka, including John Hendrickson, Hal Wilkening, Lataine Donelin, and Librarian Judith Hunter, for
unfailing attention to and friendly assistance on the project. We are particularly indebted to Colleen Logan
(Seminole County Planning Department) and Sherry Hooper (Orange County Planning Department) for their
special help in providing useful resource information for the Econlockhatchee River Basin Natural Resources
Development and Protection Plan project.
We acknowledge the following individuals for sharing information and materials for preparation
of this report:
Wes Biggs (Florida Audubon Society, Maitland)
Ken Bosserman (Friends of the Econ, Winter Park)
Jim Bradner (Department Environmental Regulation, Orlando)
Greg Brock (Florida Department of Natural Resources, Tallahassee)
Jim Crall (Orlando Utilities Commisision, Orlando)
Fred Cross (Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Melbourne)
Jay Davoll (Florida Department of Transportation, Winter Park)
Michael Dennis (Breedlove, Dennis and Associates, Orlando)
Jim Farr (Department of Community Affairs, Tallahassee)
Richard Fowler (Florida Department of Transportation, Deland)
Chris Frye (Osceola County Planning Department)
Albert Gregory (Florida Department of Natural Resources, Tallahassee)
Michael Gilbrook and other staff, (East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Winter Park)
Ellen Hemmert (East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Winter Park)
Jim Hulbert (Florida Department of Environmental Regulation, Orlando)
Linda Jennings (Orange County Environmental Protection Department, Orlando)
Herb Kale (Florida Audubon Society, Maitland)
Dainne Kramer (Oviedo Planning Department)
David Kriz (USDA Soil Conservation Service, Orange County)
Roland Magyar (Orlando Planning and Development Department)
Bill Masi (Orange County Engineering Department, Orlando
Donald McIntosh (Donald W. McIntosh Associates, Inc., Orlando)
Rick Smith (Office of the Governor, Tallahassee)
Jack Stout (University of Central Florida, Orlando)
Henry Whittier (University of Central Florida, Orlando)
The Critical Areas Management and Protection (CAMP) plan is the third and final volume of a
three-part set of planning documents entitled "Econlockhatchee River Basin Natural Resources
Development and Protection Plan." This volume proposes a specific overall management plan for the
basin based on the inventory of resources and cognizant of the existing regulatory framework discussed
in the previous volumes.
Volume I contains a resource inventory of basin covering, water resources, wetland and
terrestrial ecosystems, wildlife, and historical resources.
Volume II surveys the regulatory framework and economic forces of the basin.
Statement of the Problem
The Econlockhatchee River Basin (Econ River Basin) of central Florida is under substantial
development pressure. Because of its special characteristics, it takes considerable effort to manage its
development in order to protect its resources. The overall basin is composed of two subbasins: (1) the
eastern portion drained by the Big Econlockhatchee River, and (2) the western portion drained by the
Little Econlockhatchee River. The Big Econ Basin is relatively undeveloped and the water quality has
been relatively good. Major portions of the Little Econ Basin are highly urbanized and experienced
serious water quality problems in the past. The Little Econ Basin still shows signs of poor water quality
due primarily to nonpoint source urban runoff. The source of concern lies in the Little Econ Basin's
close proximity to the rapidly expanding Orlando Metropolitan area.
As development spreads across the landscape toward the Econ River, issues of concern include
maintaining and/or improving water quality and quantity as well as protecting wildlife species from
extinction within the basin. Every time the ground, understory, or canopy layers in a natural vegetation
community are altered, food and cover requirements for certain wildlife are removed. When an
essential habitat component diminishes to a level that is insufficient for a species to survive, that species
can no longer live there. In other words, it becomes extinct in that area. Of the state's 111 species
which are endangered, threatened, or of special concern, 39 are found in various habitats within the
Econ Basin. Seven of these occur only in Florida. Many of the other 238 species are extinct in several
townships within the basin. Unless something is done to reverse present trends, these unique
components of the basin's natural heritage will be gone forever.
The St. Johns River Water Management District funded this study to identify the extent of
these problems and to achieve some measure of control over them through management and regulation.
The study has been divided into two phases: (1) a rapid survey of the resources and potential problems
and development of a Critical Areas Management and Protection plan (CAMP plan), and (2) an
extended and more detailed analysis of problems and solutions culminating in a Comprehensive Basin
The ultimate objective of the first phase is to develop the CAMP plan. The goals of the plan,
implemented through management and regulatory initiatives are as follows:
1) Improve water quality in the Little Econ River.
2) Minimize the decline in water quality and quantity in the entire basin.
3) Protect wetlands and other significant ecological communities of the basin.
4) Maintain viable land populations of wildlife species.
5) Protect cultural and historical resources of the basin.
A regulatory framework already exists in the Econ Basin. To some degree, federal, state, and
regional laws and rules manage growth and offer protection to its resources. There are no less than five
municipalities and three counties that each have plans, laws, and development regulations affecting
development within the basin. However, the regulatory framework is neither well coordinated nor
comprehensive and does not treat the river as one system. Of critical importance, the existing
regulatory framework does not seem to recognize the linkages between the "parts" (i.e., linkages
between uplands and wetlands, habitat value and maintenance of viable wildlife populations, or lowered
groundwater levels and wetlands protection).
This study doesn't intend to diminish the existing framework but, instead, to identify where
critical gaps exist and suggest modifications and additions that may add a greater degree of protection.
Most importantly, it is not the aim of this study to unduly hinder appropriate development, but only to
help guide it to ensure compatibility between economic uses and ecologic functions and values.
Identification of Critical Areas
Critical areas are those areas within the basin that are worthy of special attention because of
their location, ecological function, or sensitive nature are worthy of special attention. In some instances,
critical areas are geographic portions of the basin that are developed and, as a result, require attention.
Some contain rare ecological communities or particularly valuable ecosystems that require protection.
Others are potential wildlife corridors or pivotal parcels and should be purchased. Still others provide
essential habitat for maintenance of viable populations of wildlife.
The following paragraphs describe critical areas, starting with the more general and ending with
specific geographic locales. In essence, the list is an ordered ranking by regulatory intensity. The
larger the area, the more generalized the regulatory and management suggestions. For each critical area,
a rationale is given for its inclusion. Critical areas are shown on Map 1.
Area 1. Urbanized portions of the Little Econ upstream of University Blvd. Much of this portion of
the basin has been developed for a number of years and does not conform to current stormwater
management rules. In addition, much of the river channel has been channelized. These two factors
form the basis for management suggestions for this critical area and most often cited for the poor water
quality associated with the Little Econ and the Lower Econ River.
Area 2. Headwaters of the Big Econ River south of the Beeline Highway. The Big Econ flows north
from an extensive headwaters landscape dominated by cypress and marsh wetlands. Water quality and
dry season flow rates are favorably influenced by the present condition of this area. Although
management of the lower reaches of the river will ensure its health, management of the headwaters is
Area 3. Xeric scrub communities of the Big Econ Basin. Xeric communities in a flatwoods-dominated
landscape are a rarity. Occupying relic dunes, mostly along the "ridge" that separates the Little and Big
Econ basins, xeric communities are the habitat of numerous threatened and endangered wildlife and
plant species. Unfortunately for these threatened and endangered species, xeric communities offer
excellent development potential because of their landscape position and generally well-drained soils. As
a result, they are disappearing throughout the eastern portions of Orange, Osceola, and Seminole
Area 4. River corridor of the Big Econ and the portion of Little Econ north of University Blvd. The
corridor of land that is delimited by the 100-year floodplain averages about 2500 feet wide for most of
the Big Econ River, and approximately 1200 feet wide for the Little Econ River north of University
Blvd. Included within this area is a mosaic of wetlands and uplands that is critically interconnected and
that provides an important wildlife habitat. Slightly developed and with few intrusions, this river
corridor contains the majority of historical Indian sites within the basin.
The riverine corridor of floodplain wetlands and adjacent uplands forms an impressive 38-mile
wildlife corridor linking the headwaters with other dispersed wildlife habitat of the basin. Essential to
wildlife, a corridor allows free movement of wildlife, provides for the spatial needs for maintenance of
viable populations of wildlife, and ensures a scenic, wild buffer between developed lands and the river.
Area 5. Floodplain wetlands of the Big Econ and Little Econ. Floodplain wetlands are important
wildlife habitat and ensure good water quality in the rivers with which they are associated. The
floodplain wetlands of the Big Econ are relatively intact communities, although there is evidence of
earlier logging. The Little Econ has relatively intact floodplain wetlands in its unchannelized portions.
Area 6. Lower Reach of the Econ River adiacent to the St. Johns River. Probably the most diverse
mosaic of ecological communities in the basin is located in the lower reaches of the basin where the
Econ joins the St. Johns River. Presently proposed for CARL acquisition, the lands surrounding the
lower Econ River are host to numerous historical sites and relatively intact mixed hardwood swamps
and upland hammocks.
Area 7. Potential wildlands corridors connecting the Big Econ with Seminole Ranch, Tosahatchee
Preserve, and Lake Mary Jane Wetlands and corridor connecting Big and Little Econ Rivers. Because
the recommended preservation/conservation area along the Big Econ is relatively narrow and will
somewhat restrict wildlife movements compared to natural landscapes, several linkages between the
Econ River and larger habitats to the east should be established. These wildlife corridors will allow
alternate dispersal routes and a less restricted exchange of genetic material from other populations. Four
corridors have been delineated that would add an important level of integration to the wildlands network
and help ensure adequate population interaction and movement.
One corridor would connect the Big and Little Econ rivers; the three corridors would connect
the Big Econ with three natural areas outside the basin: Tosahatchee State Preserve, Seminole Ranch,
and Lake Mary Jane wetlands. This would form a regionwide network of wildlands (see Map 1).
MANAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT GUIDELINES
The system of critical areas (shown in Map 1) are crucial to management of the basin's natural
resources. Extensive areas like Area 1 (urbanized portions of the Little Econ) and Area 2 (headwaters
of the Big Econ) require broader scale management and development control. Smaller, specific areas
require more definitive management.
This volume suggests guidelines for management and future development. Some are
appropriate as planning policies and others may be useful as principles for site planning and design.
Guidelines Within Critical Areas
Each critical area has unique sensitivities to development as well as regulatory and management
needs that will enhance its current condition. Compatible activities are those that enhance or do not
disrupt ecological functions and values. The following paragraphs discuss what development activities
are compatible and suggest regulatory initiatives for each critical area. In addition, this volume provides
management and development guidelines that may further protect and enhance resource values.
Area 1. Urbanized portions of the Little Econ upstream of University Blvd. Providing better
stormwater management will become increasingly important within area 1. This area is densely
developed. For the most part, stormwaters are not adequately handled since much of the area was
developed prior to current Water Management District stormwater regulatory authority. In addition to
causing water quality problems, dense development of the area has eliminated most natural wildlife food
and cover. Requiring all development within the basin to retrofit to current standards may be an
impossible task given the level of development that has already occurred.
The following are management and development guidelines for the urbanized portions of the
Little Econ River
1) Prevent further channelization and dechannelize and re-establish old floodplain
wetlands wherever practicable.
2) Purchase adjacent uplands for conversion into regional treatment systems which
incorporate created wetlands to store and treat stormwaters within each subbasin.
3) Increase assimilative capacity of ditches and channelized portions of the Little Econ by
growing and regularly harvesting aquatic and emergent vegetation, and harvesting on a
4) Establish and revegetate native vegetation along channels where possible.
Area 2. Headwaters of the Big Econ River south of the Beeline Highway. Area 2 is greater than 50%
wetlands and is critical for the "health" of the Big Econ. Development of its uplands will be extremely
difficult without significant augmentation of natural drainage. This will cause a loss of storage capacity,
increased wet season river flows, and decreased dry season base flows. While relatively undeveloped
(that is, free of urbanization), much of the natural landscape of area 2 has been altered due to
agricultural and silvicultural practices.
The following are management and development guidelines for area 2.
1) Require management of stormwaters from any proposed developments so that pre-
development and post-development discharges are equivalent in quantity, rate, quality,
timing, and duration.
2) Restrict (including harvesting) silvicultural operations in wetlands.
3) Require wildlife buffers of at least 550 feet from the edge of open water, including 50
feet of uplands for all isolated wetlands greater than or equal to 5 acres in size.
4) Purchase as much of the headwaters south of the Beeline Highway as possible, but
especially the Econlockhatchee River Swamp with adjacent uplands and the area
known as Bee Tree Swamp with adjacent uplands.
5) Prohibit further highway and utility corridor construction that crosses the headwaters
basin and increases fragmentation.
Area 3. Xeric scrub communities of the Big Econ Basin. Most of the scrub is located within desirable
locations for development and, as a result, they are endangered communities within the basin.
Management and development guidelines for scrub communities are as follows:
1. Prohibit development activities within remaining scrub communities unless it does not
alter essential habitat components.
2. Establish linkages with other habitat types, when setting aside scrub habitats, so they
do not become isolated islands in developed landscapes.
3. Provide development credits or wetland mitigation credits when scrub communities are
left intact and connected to other habitat systems.
Area 4. River corridor of the Big Econ and the portion of Little Econ north of University Blvd. A
mosaic of wetlands and uplands, which lie within the 100-year floodplain, is included with area 4.
Habitats within this mosaic are critically interconnected and important for wetland and upland wildlife.
Wildlife access and movement along the length of the basin is greatly facilitated by the contiguous
A continuous corridor with few road crossings, cleared utility easements, or developed patches
is essential. Loss of vegetated cover reduces wildlife habitat values and corridor functions.
Development within the corridor alters surface- and groundwater hydrology and decreases surface-water
Continued fragmentation of the basin can be offset by preservation of a continuous riverine
corridor that can connect fragmented and otherwise isolated habitats.
Management and development guidelines for the river corridor are as follows:
1) Establish a conservation zone along the main stem of the Big Econ and Little Econ
north of University Boulevard that corresponds to the 100-year floodplain as delimited
on USGS FIRM Maps (Map 1). Such a conservation zone should be described with
(2), (3), (6), (7), and (12) characteristics.
2) Limit development activities within the conservation zone to activities that do not
permanently alter vegetation except for those noted below.
3) Prohibit agriculture within the conservation zone.
4) Restrict silviculture to a minimum 100-year rotation (1% per year) except for using
small cuts, or selective harvesting. In addition, approximately X% of land area should
be preserved in old growth timber.
5) Preserve historical sites and protect them from further degradation.
6) Control passive recreation by locating nature trails along the preservation zone edge or
landward edge of the area and transect the middle of the conservation zone only once
per mile. Further, pavilions, nature centers, parking lots or other structures should be
7) Recreational and nature trails should be unsurfaced, no wider than 4 feet, and prohibit
motorized vehicular access except for maintenance.
8) Minimize utility and road crossings. These present major obstacles to wildlife
movements and should be strictly minimized with provision of adequate wildlife
underpasses wherever allowed. No more than two more should be allowed along the
entire length of the Big Econ. Prohibit further highway and utility corridor
construction than increase habitat fragmentation.
9) Control groundwater levels within the conservation zone to ensure no lowering of
groundwater levels within the floodplain wetlands preservation zone.
10) Encourage revegetation of all cleared and previously altered lands should be allowed to
revegetate with native ecological communities in the conservation zone.
11) Prohibit free-ranging domestic in the conservation zone.
12) Develop and implement a prescribed burning plan throughout the conservation zone
Area 5. Floodplain wetlands of the Big Econ and Little Econ. The floodplain wetlands associated with
the river are essential for water quality, flood storage, and wildlife. The following are management and
development guidelines for floodplain wetlands.
1) Establish a basinwide preservation zone along the main stems and tributaries of the
Big Econ and Little Econ rivers that is the greater of either 550 feet landward of the
water/wetland edge, or 50 feet landward of the landward extent of the floodplain
wetland (see Figure 1 and Map 1).
2) Prohibit all development activities except for nature trails, boardwalks, dock, and other
construction as provided for below in the preservation zone.
3) Prohibit silviculture and agriculture within the preservation zone.
Flood Plain Wetland Upland
1, 50' _,
Channel c ,-
Floodplain Wetland Upland
Figure 1. Diagram illustrating the width of the Preservation Zone for the river floodplain
wetlands of two different widths; for those less than 550 feet (top diagram) and for
those greater than 550 feet (bottom diagram). In the top diagram, where the wetland is
less than 550-feet wide measured from the waterward edge of the wetland to its upland
edge, the preservation zone is 550 feet. Where the wetland is greater than 550-feet
wide, the preservation zone is the width of the wetland plus 50 feet of upland.
4) Control passive recreation by locating nature trails only close to the waterward or
landward perimeters of the preservation zone and cross the middle of the preservation
zone no morethan once per mile. Further, pavilions, nature centers, parking lots or
other construction should be prohibited.
5) Limit boat ramps and river access points to no more than one per mile of river to
preserve the connectivity of the system.
6) Minimize utility and road crossings and provide adequate wildlife underpasses
wherever crossings are allowed. No more than two more should be allowed along the
entire length of the Big Econ. Prohibit further highway and utility corridor crossings
that increase habitat fragmentation.
7) Prohibit alteration of the hydrologic regime within the floodplain wetlands preservation
8) Allow all cleared and previously altered lands to revegetate with native ecological
9) Prohibit free-ranging domestic animals.
10) Develop and implement a prescribed burning plan where applicable.
Area 6. Lower Reach of the Econ River adjacent to the St. Johns River. Area 6 contains numerous
historical sites, an extensive mosaic of ecological communities and important wildlife habitat. Because
of its pivotal location, linking the St. Johns River and the Econ River systems, and because of its
landscape diversity, it is an important resource for wildlife.
Management and development guidelines for the lower Econ River area as follows:
1) Proceed with acquisition under the CARL program.
2) Design development of public lands for recreational purposes outside of the
conservation area to minimize fragmentation of important habitats and mosaics of
3) Leave historical sites on public lands intact and protect from further degradation.
Area 7. Potential wildlands corridors connecting the Big Econ Conservation Zone with other wildlands.
Area 7 consists of wildlife corridors which would connect the basin to large natural areas to the east and
west. Areas one mile wide have been delimited on the map. It is suggested that efforts for acquisition
of parcels within these broad corridors be increased as a means of establishing contiguous corridors as
wide as possible, from the Econ to the St. Johns River at several locations. The locations chosen are
tributaries to the Econ that connect with relatively undeveloped lands. Management and development
guidelines for these potential wildland corridors are as follows:
1) Establish a program to evaluate, select and purchase lands; establish easements, or
transfer development rights to adjacent parcels.
2) Institute an overlay zoning category called "wildlands corridor" and develop
performance criteria and incentives for uses of lands that are consistent with wildlife
corridor functions and for the preservation of natural vegetative cover.
Table 1 gives the area within the conservation zone, preservation zone and floodplain Wetlands
of the Big and Little Econ rivers. Since the preservation zone extends along the tributaries of the river,
its area is greater than the area within the conservation zone.
Table 1. Area of Floodplain and Wetlands and Preservation and Conservation Zones.
Seminole County 31354 17.9%
Wetlands* 4396 14.0% 2.5%
Preservation Zone@ 2201 7.0% 1.3%
Conservation Zone# 4667 14.9% 2.7%
Orange County 127315 72.8%
Wetlands* 20222 15.9% 11.6%
Preservation Zone@ 8712 6.8% 5.0%
Conservation Zone# 5867 4.6% 3.4%
Osceola County 16203 9.3%
Wetlands* 1466 0.8%
Preservation Zone@ 3255 20.1% 1.9%
Conservation Zone # 2000 12.3% 1.1%
* Wetlands not within the preservation or conservation zones.
@ Preservation zone is defined as a zone along the main stems and tributaries of the Big Econ and
Little Econ rivers that is 550 feet landward of te waterward edge of the wetland, or 75 feet landward
of the landward edge of the floodplain wetland, whichever is greater.
# Conservation zone is defined as a zone along both sides of the main stem of the Big Econ and the
Little Econ north of the University Blvd. measuring 1100 feet from the landward edge of the river
channel toward the upland.
Guidelines Outside Critical Areas
Management and regulation of activities within critical areas alone is insufficient to ensure
maintenance of their values, activities at sites outside of critical areas must also be managed. Some
activities, because of their intensity or ubiquity, can impact a critical area even if they are distant from
the critical area. In the following discussion, several activities are discussed with regard to their
potential impacts on critical areas of the basin.
Maintaining Habitat Values of Critical Areas
There are several management and development guidelines for sites outside of critical areas that
will greatly facilitate the ability of the critical areas system to maintain viable populations of wildlife.
Major east-west highways such as Routes 420, 50, and 528 have divided the basin into four large habitat
blocks. These roads are serious obstacles to north-south movements of animals along the Econ River.
Their effectiveness as barriers increases as urban sprawl travels down these infrastructures. Highways
also are responsible for significant mortality rates of many species. Safe travel is necessary to maintain
high levels of variation in the gene pools and to replace animals that die from various causes.
Loud and sudden noises interfere with wildlife communications, and disturb feeding and nesting
Free-ranging cats and dogs exert unnaturally high predation pressures on ground-feeding and
nesting species in developed areas and adjacent critical areas. Many of the wildlife benefits achieved
through preservation and conservation zones will be negated by free-ranging cats and dogs if not
Uncontrolled burning in adjacent areas threatens a prescribed burn plan for critical areas should
fires escape. While natural fires play a large role in maintaining plant species composition in flatwoods
and other upland vegetation communities wild fires can be disastrous to ecological communities and
1) Design and construct wildlife underpasses on existing cross-basin roads similar to
those implemented along Alligator Alley. These underpasses should be wide enough
to substantially reduce disturbances from encroaching development along the highways.
2) Prohibit loud and sudden noises in areas adjacent to identified critical areas.
3) Develop educational programs and additional incentives that will encourage pet owners
to keep their cats and dogs confined to their property.
4) Develop a prescribed burning program in areas where applicable adjacent to critical
areas to protect against wild fires.
Managing Developed Areas for Wildlife
Current development practices are often not sensitive to wildlife requirements. Solutions to
several problems associated with habitat loss and degradation could be easily accommodated within
Only 8 of the 39 listed (endangered, threatened, and special concern) species that are assumed
to occur in the Econ Basin have been documented through the development review process.
Consequently, development is probably destroying critical habitat for unnoticed, listed species.
Landscaping practices that do not effectively address wildlife needs create artificial
environments with very little, if any, habitat values.
The location, arrangement, and use of wildlife corridors and conservation areas within
developments determine how valuable they are to wildlife. Consequently, the areas set aside for
conservation are not always providing the greatest potential benefits for wildlife that the property has to
Many wetland-dependent wildlife will not be able to survive in areas where access to upland
areas is not available. They will be deprived of critical nesting and feeding resources provided by these
Stormwater control impoundments with steep sides, and no emergent or shoreline vegetation are
sterile environments for wildlife.
1) Implement the use of the Wildlife Methodology Guidelines published by the Florida
Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission for all proposed development sites.
2) Landscaping standards should be developed that include the use of native plant species
and restrictions on the removal of understory vegetation so that some wildlife
requirements can be provided and the landscaped areas will blend into nearby natural
3) Arrange wildlife corridors and conservation areas so they connect with each other and
with larger natural systems as much as possible. Construct road underpasses that
allow movement of wildlife. One large conservation area usually provides more
benefits to wildlife than many smaller ones. Whenever possible, conservation areas of
adjacent developments should be combined into large connected areas. Recreational
facilities should be provided in areas other than conservation areas.
4) Provide buffers of at least 550 feet from the center of the wetland including 50 feet of
uplands for all wetlands equal to or greater than 5 acres. Locate upland conservation
areas so they will connect as many wetlands as possible. Standards should be
developed for protecting smaller permanent and ephemeral wetlands.
5) Develop standards for stormwater ponds that include the use of native emergent
vegetation, littoral zones, and native vegetation along the shore so that these ponds will
provide aquatic and wetland wildlife habitat values.
Drainage. Drainage of lands, especially in the flat, poorly drained topography that is characteristic of
much of the Econ Basin, affects areas a great distance from the drainage site. In a recent study, Brown,
Schaefer, and Brandt (1989) calculated that in very flat topography, water levels in wetlands more than
700 feet from a groundwater drawdown structure can be lowered--even when the drawdown at the
structure is only 3 feet. Greater drawdowns require much greater distances to buffer their effects.
1) Establish a maximum drawdown of feet below the average, wet season, water-table
elevation throughout the Big Econ, and undeveloped portions of the Little Econ Basin
to minimize overdrainage, loss of existing storage and losses of wetland and terrestrial
2) Require permits for construction of any significant additional drainage ditches by
public agencies or private organizations regardless of outfall cross-sectional area.
Require in the permit conditions that the net effect of the drainage structure will not
lower surrounding groundwater elevations more than three feet from the average wet
3) Construct weirs and internal dams (where practical) in existing drainage ditches that
criss-cross the basin to raise water levels and therefore slow dewatering of the
landscape. Re-establish groundwater levels no lower than three feet below pre-
development, average, wet-season groundwater levels.
4) Require setbacks or buffers to be located between stormwater management structures
and significant wetlands to ensure no significant alteration of the hydrologic regime at
the wetland edge.
Channelization. Channelization of drainage features is extremely destructive to resource values. Waters
move more quickly; therefore, there is less time for assimilation of wastes and pollutants. While the
channelized drainageway can accommodate more water in a shorter period of time, the water carries
increased nutrient and pollutant loads to downstream locations. Often channelization also lowers water
table elevations in surrounding lands.
1) Prohibit further channelization of rivers and tributaries.
2) Begin a program to restore channelized streams and tributaries. Where this is not
possible, establish wetland detention basins as a means of improving water quality
prior to release to the river.
Stormwater management. Impervious surfaces ultimately increase runoff and nonpoint sources of
pollution. Combined with declines in storage in wetlands and soils, increases in impervious surface can
shift the river's hydrology to higher, wet-season, peak runoff and lower, dry-season base flow.
Under existing stormwater regulations, stormwater systems are required to reduce by 80% the
pollutant load (nutrient load) of stormwaters exiting a developed site. While the intent is to reduce the
potential pollutant load leaving any single site, the regulation does not address the cumulative effects of
numerous developments all discharging 20% of their pollutant load to the river.
The quality, quantity, rate, and timing of runoff from lands is important to the long-term
environmental quality of the Econ River. Changes in impervious surfaces and storage characteristics of
lands as they are developed can alter runoff characteristics. Stormwater rules in the basin should
regulate effects on runoff quantity and timing as well as quality to ensure runoff patterns; thus, river
hydrology is not negatively affected by development.
1) Require more stringent stormwater management in the Big Econ Basin, and require
that pre- and post-development runoff should be similar in quality, quantity, rate, and
2) Change stormwater regulations to address cumulative impacts of full development of
the basin. One way to address full development may be to do a nonpoint source waste
load allocation of the basin and assign waste load discharges on a per acre basis.
3) Bring retro-fit existing, non-conforming stormwater management systems into
conformance with stormwater regulations in the Big Econ Basin.
Wetland stormwater management systems. Detention systems are often designed as wet systems in
areas with high-water tables such as the Econ Basin. Frequently they are designed as lakes with mostly
open water and some wetland vegetation around the edges. These systems, by their location and the
stormwater loads they receive, are relatively nutrient rich and require special management to maintain
their open water character. In addition, the stormwater treatment ability of a lake versus a wetland is
1) Modify existing stormwater regulations and policies to encourage construction of
wetlands within wet detention systems. The more self-maintaining the community is
the better it will be able to treat stormwaters on a long-term basis. Forested systems
are easiest to maintain over the long run, but hardest to establish. Marshes are easy to
establish, but often require maintenance.
2) Encourage the construction of surface-water conveyance systems as forested or
herbaceous wetland swales (or sloughs).
3) Develop performance criteria for the design and construction of all wetlands that
emphasizes site analysis, engineering of hydroperiods, use of proper planting stock,
Manage waters according to their nutrient status. The stormwater leaving a developed site generally has
a higher nutrient load than waters running off an undeveloped site. A water body having a high nutrient
load is characteristic of eutrophic conditions (i.e., its nutrient status is tyically eutrophic or rich in
The nutrient status of a water body that receives only rainfall, or very limited runoff from
terrestrial sources is termed oligotrophic (i.e., nutrient poor). The ecological conditions of each of these
two types of lakes are quite different. The nutrient-rich environment is very productive and grows much
vegetation, while the nutrient-poor environment is less productive and grows less robust vegetation.
Often the aesthetic qualities of oligotrophic conditions are considered desirable, while those of
eutrophic conditions are considered undesirable. As a result, the vegetation that is associated with
eutrophic conditions is often considered a nuisance or undesirable, and efforts are made to rid eutrophic
waters and wetlands of their natural vegetative cover in favor of species or characteristics of
Management according to nutrient status suggests that programs to eliminate native vegetation
from eutrophic waters should be discontinued; rather, native aquatic vegetation should be encouraged in
order to benefit water quality in downstream locations.
1) Manage surface waters when they are nutrient rich to allow native vegetative cover
and, thus, water quality improvement and nutrient removal and when they are nutrient
poor, manage as open water bodies. Discontinue aquatic weed spray programs in man-
made drainage channels and allow vegetation to filter waters unless navigation is
impaired or flood potential is significantly increased.
2) Suspend programs that require removal of native wetland vegetation species over long
periods of time in created and restored wetlands or drainage swales because these
species are considered undesirable. Instead, encourage greater planting densities higher
diversity of planted species, creation of forested wetlands, and control of vegetation in
Construction setback for isolated wetlands. When clearing activities occur immediately adjacent to
wetland communities, there is often potential for erosion from upland portions of the site to deposit
sediments within the wetland. In addition, the operation of heavy equipment in close proximity to the
wetland boundary can often result in impacts to the peripheral areas of the wetland.
1) To minimize impacts of heavy equipment and sedimentation in wetlands, provide a 75-
foot construction setback for isolated wetlands.
The regulatory framework that guides development within the basin, for the most part, is
capable of controlling development and protecting much of the basin's resources. However, several
critical gaps have been identified that, if filled, would ensure future maintenance of resource quality and
Modification of MSSW permitting criteria could provide substantial additional protection for
the Econ Basin. Current MSSW criteria allow groundwater drawdown and do not require compensating
storage for systems which cause a reduction in storage capacity between the 10- and 100-year
floodplain. In addition, the criteria do not ensure that runoff characteristics (volume) or peak Q for
specific storms (see #3 below) are similar for pre- and post-development conditions equals pre-
The overall storage capacity of the entire basin could be preserved and enhanced if MSSW
criteria were modified to:
1) limit the lowering of average wet season water tables to no more than three feet at any
2) prevent any significant alterations of existing hydrologic regime in preservation or
conservation zones and significant wetlands, as defined by the East Central Florida
Regional Planning Council (wetlands of five acres or greater);
3) maintain pre-development runoff characteristics by requiring drainage from a site after
development to have approximately the same rate of flow, volume, timing, and quality
as runoff that would have occurred following the same rainfall under pre-development
4) restore pre-development drainage characteristics whenever possible.
Chapter 373, Florida Statutes, grants the St. Johns River Water Management District (District)
broad rule-making authority to protect water resources of the district. Groundwater levels, drainage
characteristics, and wetlands are clearly water resources of the district. Accordingly, the district could
probably adopt more stringent MSSW permitting criteria for the Econ Basin without an additional grant
of legislative authority.
Furthermore, MSSW threshold levels should be lowered for the Econ Basin. The District rules
state that the "Governing Board [of the District] may designate specific geographic areas ... with
threshold volumes and areas different from those ... [adopted for the entire regulatory area of the
District]."' Chapter 373 appears to provide ample regulatory authority for this rule, and, accordingly,
for the adoption of basin specific thresholds and regulations. However, additional legislation specifically
addressing the Econ Basin would be helpful.
District staff indicate that stormwater runoff continues to be a source of pollution in the Econ
Basin. Existing district and local government regulations could be strengthened by
1) requiring the use of forested wetland detention systems rather than open water systems;
2) developing a more specific and measurable nutrient standard;
3) providing for consideration of the short-term, long-term, and cumulative effects of the
construction of stormwater treatment systems on aquatic and wetland dependent
wildlife and their habitat; and
4) developing specific design and performance criteria for treatment systems which will
function properly considering the specific hydrology and geology of the Econ Basin.
The authority for the district to develop basin specific stormwater criteria for the Econ Basin
can be implied from Chapters 373 and 403, Florida Statutes, although additional legislative authority
would be helpful.2 Local government authority to adopt stormwater regulations is derived from home
rule powers and the Local Government Comprehensive Planning and Land Development Regulation Act.
In addition, the district should consider requiring retro-fitting of existing stormwater discharge
facilities which do not comply with current regulations. The district should also consider requiring
permits for discharges from agricultural and silvicultural lands. Both of these initiatives would be
controversial and would require additional research to determine their feasibility.
Preservation and Conservation Zones
Lands adjacent to the Econ River are particularly critical for the preservation of water quality,
water quantity, and wildlife. Although local governments and state agencies currently regulate activities
within the Econ Basin, there is no comprehensive management scheme which provides adequate
protection for the entire river system. Creation of the preservation and conservation zones as described
in the Management and Development Guidelines could protect these resource values and enhance
recreational and aesthetic opportunities.
Several alternatives exist for establishing and managing the preservation and conservation
zones. Authority for the district to regulate riparian areas which provide habitat for aquatic and wetland
dependent species can be implied from Chapter 373. Accordingly, the district could create rules specific
'Fla. Admin. Code 40C-4.041(3)(a) (August 1989).
2 Fla. Stat. 373.044, 373.113, 373.171, 403.812, 403.814.
to the Econ Basin which establish the preservation zone and strengthen criteria under existing permitting
programs. However, the district declined to adopt similar regulations in the Wekiva Basin without an
additional grant of legislative authority. Therefore, specific legislation directing the district to establish
the conservation zone and to adopt additional criteria would probably be necessary.3
Without an additional grant of legislative authority, the district would probably not have
authority to establish the conservation zone. Although uplands and non-aquatic or wetland dependent
species of wildlife within the 100-year floodplain are arguably related to the water resources of the
district, the connection is tenuous. The legislature could probably grant the district authority to create
and regulate the conservation zone, including uplands.
Local governments within the Econ Basin have the authority to adopt regulations to implement
the preservation and conservation zones. Local governments currently provide significant protection to
certain areas within the Econ system, such as wetlands, but do not adequately protect other areas, such
as upland wildlife habitat and corridors. Draft comprehensive plan conservation elements for local
governments within the basin contain language which could provide additional protection for the basin.
However, draft conservation elements are not due for adoption until late 1990 or 1991, and
corresponding land development regulations are not due until a year later.4 At the current rate of
development, many of the resource values of the Econ Basin could be lost before regulations were in
The legislature could direct the local governments to modify their comprehensive plans and to
adopt regulations to create and regulate the preservation and conservation zones. Such legislation should
create an accelerated schedule to ensure regulations are adopted as soon as possible.5 In addition, the
legislation should provide sufficient specific criteria so that local governments within the basin establish
and regulate the preservation and conservation zones in a consistent manner.6
A third alternative involves expanding the district's authority and directing local governments to
adopt specific regulations. This is the approach used in the Wekiva Basin, and it appears to be the most
practical and effective method of creating and regulating the preservation and conservation zones. The
"The legislature recently granted similar authority to the district to create protection zones and strengthen
permitting criteria within the Wekiva Basin.
4Draft Comprehensive plans must be submitted by the following dates: Osceola County, July 1, 1990;
Orange County, December 1, 1990; Orlando, January 1, 1991; Seminole County and Oviedo, April 1, 1991. (L
Admin. Code 9J-12.007(1),(6),(7),(10).
"The Wekiva River Protection Act (Fla. Stat. 369 (Supp. 1988)), enacted in the spring of 1988, required
local governments to complete and submit their plans by April 1, 1989. However, at the time of this writing,
one local government has still not submitted acceptable comprehensive plans and regulations.
"6The Wekiva River Protection Act relies on the comprehensive planning review process to ensure that local
government comprehensive plan amendments and regulations are consistent with the intent of the Act Currently,
two local governments with jurisdiction over the Wekiva Basin have adopted building setbacks and vegetative
buffers of 200 feet landward of the river and 500 feet landward from the landward edge of wetlands. A more
consistent result might have been achieved if the legislature had designated a minimum buffer width.
approach ensures that the basin is regulated from both a regional and a local perspective, and utilizes
and enhances existing planning mechanisms and regulatory programs.
Regardless of which approach is taken, it appears that establishment and regulation of the
preservation and conservation zones will require additional legislation. Such legislation should require
rapid development and implementation of regulatory provisions. Furthermore, the legislation should
provide sufficient specificity to ensure regulations are developed which result in consistent management
of the Econ River system.
Outstanding Florida Waters
All surface waters in the Econ Basin are currently classified as Class III, which allows lowering
of water quality below existing levels. A substantial additional degree of protection could be achieved
by designating the Econ as an Outstanding Florida Water (OFW).7 New direct discharges to the OFW,
and new indirect discharges that "significantly degrade" water quality, would be prohibited unless they
would not lower ambient water quality and are in the public interest. To the extent discharges are
regulated, further lowering of water quality could be prevented.
Designation as an Outstanding Florida Water also increases the stringency of dredge and fill
permitting. Dredge and fill projects within an OFW (or significantly degrading it) must be "clearly in
the public interest," as opposed to the more lenient general standard of "not contrary to the public
interest."' In addition, more protective dredge and fill standards could be adopted specifically for the
OFW by the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation. The Wetlands Protection Act gives DER
authority to adopt "stricter permitting and enforcement provisions within Outstanding Florida
Outstanding Florida Waters must be designated by the Environmental Regulatory
Commission(ERC) after a lengthy administrative process. The ERC must find the candidate waters are
"of exceptional recreational or ecological importance" and that "the environmental, social, and economic
benefits of the action outweigh the environmental, social, and economic costs."'1 The legislature could
probably also designate an OFW.
'Fla. Stat. 403.061(27)(a) (1987); Fla. Admin. Code 17-3.041 (April 1989), 17-4.242 (September 1988)
(Note: Rule 17-3.041 is being transferred to Rule 17-302).
"But see 1800 Atlantic Developers v. Department of Environmental Regulation, So. 2d (Nov.9, 1989),
reversing Florida Keys Citizens Coalition V. 1800 Atlantic Developers, 8 FALR 5564 (Final Order) (Oct. 17,
"Fla. Stat. 403.912(1) (1987). Such authority also extends to aquatic preserves, areas of critical state
concern, and areas subject to chapter 380 resource management plans. Id. Special criteria have been adopted for
the Florida Keys under this authority. (Fla. Admin. Code 17-312.400 17-312.470 (July 1989).
'"Fla. Admin. Code 17-3.041(2) (April 1989).
Water Quality Based Effluent Limitations (WQBEL) Level II Process
According to district staff, one of the primary problems with regulating stormwater and other
discharges to the Econ Basins on Class III water quality standards is that there is no specific nutrient
standard. The standard currently reads: "In no case shall nutrient concentrations of a body of water be
altered so as to cause an imbalance in natural populations of aquatic flora or fauna."" One solution to
this problem would be to conduct the necessary water quality studies and computer modeling to assess
the assimilative capacity of the affected waterbodies and allocate increments of loading to point and
nonpoint sources of pollutants. The rules of the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation
(DER) provide for such a process for setting water quality based effluent limitations (WQBELs),
conducted by DER or discharge permit applicants.1
Developments of Regional Impact (DRI or DRIs)
Developments which substantially affect the citizens of more than one county (DRIs) are
reviewed by local, regional, and state agencies to determine regional impacts of the development.
Proposed DRIs are reviewed for consistency with local comprehensive plans and regulations, regional
policies, and state guidelines and standards.
The regional importance and uniqueness of the Econ Basin warrants lowering DRI thresholds.
The potential is great for projects located near the continuous river system to cause adverse downstream
affects in other counties. Lowering of DRI thresholds by 50% would ensure comprehensive review of a
greater number of projects. The Legislature recently directed the Governor and the Cabinet to reduce
DRI thresholds by 50% for significant portions of the Wekiva Basin."
The Department of Community Affairs or the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council
may petition the Governor and the Cabinet to decrease thresholds for DRI review.14 The Governor and
the Cabinet may decrease thresholds by up to 50%, subject to legislative approval." Alternatively, the
Legislature could direct the reduction of DRI thresholds by an appropriate percentage.
"Fla. Admin. Code 17-3.121(19) (May 1987).
"Fla. Admin. Code 17-6.403 (April 1989).
"Fla. Stat. 369.307(2) (Supp. 1988).
"4Fla. Stat. 380.06(3) (1987).
"Id. at 8 380.06(3)(c),(e).
Interim Development Controls
Substantial changes in local government comprehensive plans and land development
regulations, district regulations and other state agency regulations are necessary to fully implement the
CAMP plan. The pace of development in the basin is very rapid. Several major Developments of
Regional Impact (DRIs) have been approved within the last year and several others are under review
near the confluence of the Big and Little Econ Rivers. The owners of most of the remaining large tracts
in the upper Econ have recently announced plans to submit Applications for Development Approval
(ADAs). Numerous developments below the DRI threshold are also being processed at various levels of
planning and regulatory review. Only currently valid comprehensive plans, land development
regulations and state agency regulations can be applied in the review process. There is a substantial
likelihood that much of the basin could be committed to development that is inconsistent with the
CAMP plan before the necessary regulatory changes are made to implement it. A moratorium on the
issuance of development approvals pending the adoption of implementing ordinances and regulations
should be considered.
Moratoria or "interim development controls" are generally considered to be valid, provided
certain conditions are met.16 First, the purpose must be valid. Allowing a local government to revise
comprehensive plans or land development regulations is generally considered a valid purpose. Second,
the local government must be acting in good faith to protect the effectiveness of its regulatory scheme
and not merely to delay, and thus discourage development. The local government must be able to show
that it is actively working to make the necessary revisions and expeditiously adopt them. Third, the
local government must have been delegated the necessary authority and must follow the required
procedures. In Florida, local governmental authority may be implied from home rule powers and the
Local Government Comprehensive Planning and Land Development Regulation Act17 Finally, the
ordinance cannot infringe upon such constitutional rights as due process, equal protection and the
There are several options for implementing interim development controls. A moratorium on the
issuance of all development approvals within the basin could be instituted. This would be controversial
and, unless necessary, should probably be avoided. A more limited option would be to adopt relatively
general interim development regulations based on the CAMP plan that would be applied on a case by
case basis, pending the adoption of more detailed regulations. These might be similar to the Principles
and Standards for Guiding Development that have been adopted for areas of critical state concern.
Certain regulations could be applicable to all development approvals within the basin, while others
would only apply to developments within preservation or conservation zones. Such standards could
probably be drafted and adopted as quickly as a comprehensive moratorium.
16 See generally, T. Roberts, Interim Development Controls, Ch. 22, 3 ROHAN, ZONING AND
LAND USE CONTROLS (July 1989); P. Gougelman & T. Taub, Moratoria and Interim Growth Management,
Ch. 5, FLORIDA BAR, ENVIRONMENTAL AND LAND USE LAW SECTION, FLORIDA
ENVIRONMENTAL AND LAND USE LAW, Vol. II (July 1989).
"Fla. Stat. 163.3202 (1987).
Consideration should also be given to the adoption of interim regulations by the St. Johns River
Water Management District, as well as local governments. The authority to adopt interim regulations
could be implied from the general authority of the district to require MSSW permits.
Whether local governments or the district adopt interim controls, they are likely to be
challenged in judicial and administrative proceedings. Legislation allowing interim regulations to be
enforced pending the disposition of such challenges would be helpful.
In addition to development guidelines and suggestions for the reform of some permitting,
effective basinwide management should include a program of acquisition. Candidate lands are those
that because of their location are pivotal parcels, ecologically, or represent relatively intact examples of
associations of ecosystems. Two classes of acquisition suggestions are given in the following
paragraphs. First, specific parcels of land are given and second, general suggestions that include the
headwaters and wildlands corridors are outlined that connect regional wildlands resources. Within these
corridors, lands should be purchased and easements sought so as to develop a continuous wild corridor
Specific Acquisition Suggestions
Three specific parcels (see Map 1) are suggested for immediate acquisition because of their
pivotal location. Immediate acquisition may be necessary to ensure they remain undeveloped.
Lower Econ CARL Application
These lands, located at the mouth of the Econ River, contain an impressive mosaic of uplands
and wetlands and some of the most important historical resources of the basin. Their location adjacent
to the St. Johns River enhances their values and increases the need for public ownership.
ICP Property North of and Adjacent to the Beeline Highway
Located in Twp. 23S Rng. 32E, this property (totaling approximately 1300 acres) is in a
pivotal location at the confluence of the Big Econ with two of its lessor tributaries (Green Branch and
Turkey Creek). Its location adjacent to the Beeline and between the Ranger Drainage District and DOC
lands make it a likely candidate for acquisition.
Located in Twp.22S-Rng.32E, the Rybolt property is approximately 2100 acres of relatively
intact flatwoods, scrub, and wetlands. The Econ River flows for approximately 1.5 miles through the
western portions of the property.
General Acquisition Suggestions
Big Econlockhatchee River Headwaters
The St. Johns River Five-Year Acquisition Plan shows the headwaters area of the Big Econ
River as lands that are being considered for purchase. The extent of wetlands within the areas south of
the Beeline Highway and the significant storage that is accommodated there would suggest that it is
appropriate for the district to consider purchase. This plan strongly supports that position. The
headwaters are critical to the health and well-being of the entire Big Econ systems and should be
Without further, more detailed site reconnaissance, it is not possible to narrow down
acquisitions further than to suggest the entire headwaters area south of the Beeline be considered.
Unfortunately, a recent DRI proposal has been revealed that may prevent the acquisition process and
potentially compromise the integrity of the river.
Four potential corridors are outlined on Map 1. Each is named by the major drainageway it
subsumes as follows:
WC#1 = Lake Price/South Branch Creek Corridor
WC#2 = Long Branch Corridor
WC#3 = Little Creek/Second Creek Corridor
WC#4 = Green Branch/Crosby Island Marsh Corridor
WC#1: Lake Price/South Branch Creek Corridor
Located adjacent to the Rybolt property, this connector is designed to provide a corridor
between the Big and Little Econ through a large headwaters swamp and northward along a creek named
South Branch Creek. The creek has several large wetlands that drain into it from the east. Total length
of the corridor from the Big Econ to the Little Econ is approximately 6 miles.
WC#2: Long Branch Corridor
Located south of Bithlo and east of the Big Econ River, The Long Branch Corridor follows
Long Branch Creek to the intersection of Highway 50 and SR 520. This is a difficult transition point
and will require imaginative planning to tie lands north and east of these roads to the creek. The
corridor widens at this juncture to indicate that two potential routes eastward to Seminole Ranch are
possible. The first is northeast under the Highway 50/SR 520 intersection into an extensive flatwoods
area dominated by large forested wetlands, and then eastward to the Iron Bridge Created Wetland
Complex. The second route remains south of Highway 50 crossing under just west of Christmas to
occupy the drainageway of an unnamed creek that flows into Seminole Ranch. Total length of the
corridor from the Big Econ to Seminole Ranch is about 8 miles.
WC#3: Little Creek/Second Creek Corridor
This corridor has its origins in the ICP property that was proposed for acquisition above. It
occupies downstream portions of Little Creek but extends eastward along an unnamed eastern fork. The
corridor parallels the Beeline Highway and connects with Second Creek about 3.5 miles to the east.
The total length of the corridor from the Big Econ to Tosohatchee State Preserve is about 8 miles.
WC#4: Green Branch/Crosby Island Marsh Corridor
Like the previous corridor, this corridor has its origins in the ICP property proposed for
acquisition.. The corridor extend southwest along the Green Branch drainage way and connects to an
extensive wetlands/agricultural system known as Crosby Island Marsh. Serious attention should be
given to acquisition of Crosby Island Marsh for restoration from pasture back to a marsh ecosystem for
habitat values and as a means of protecting water quality in Lake Mary Jane.
The total length of the corridor including Crosby Island Marsh to connect with Lake Mary Jane
is approximately 7 miles.
SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
This CAMP plan seeks to identify the most pressing issues surrounding the Big and Little Econ
Rivers and the ecological communities, historic resources, and wildlife species within their watershed.
The CAMP plan is a short-term management and protection plan that is mostly general in its
recommendations, but contain some specific recommendations based on the limited time and analysis of
the data provided in this first phase of the program.
There are numerous areas where more detailed analyses can be done and recommendations
made. To tailor a resource management and acquisition plan to the basin, much more field work by
archaeologists, ecologists and wildlife experts is essential. To help develop additional regulations, adapt
current regulations and address issues of consistency with other agencies and laws, additional analyses
must be carried out. Finally, to provide a complete list of lands for acquisition that encompasses the
most suitable parcels within the basin, detailed field reconnaissance is necessary.
Suggestions for an Integrated Management and Protection Plan
A management and protection plan that effectively preserves and enhances water quality and
quantity of the basin should address the following issues:
1) Cumulative assimilative capacity of the Big Econ River
2) Restoration of floodplains of the Little Econ
3) Retro-fitting of older stormwater systems
4) Groundwater drawdowns throughout the basin
A management and protection plan that preserves biotic diversity, wetland functions and values,
and health of rare and endangered ecosystems should address the following issues:
1) Issues of habitat
2) Fragmentation of landscapes
3) Desiccation resulting from lowered groundwater levels
4) Increased fire frequency
A management and protection plan that will effectively preserve the wildlife integrity of the
Econ Basin should address the following issues:
1) Loss of habitat
2) Habitat fragmentation
3) Wildlife corridor misconceptions
4) Decrease in landscape diversity
5) Reduction in habitat quality
6) Impacts of adjacent land use
7) Impacts of public recreation
Until a plan is formalized, a moratorium on development in the basin would ensure that remaining
critical habitat areas will not be lost.
Recommendations for Further Research
Probably the best way to determine the long-term effects of development within the Econ Basin
on water quality and quantity is to develop the necessary water quality studies and computer modeling
to assess the assimilative capacity of the river on a reach by reach basis. Nonpoint source discharges
could then be permitted through a loading increment allocation for each acre of developed lands.
Wetland and Terrestrial Communities
Further analysis of land-cover data should be conducted to develop greater insight into the
organization of the landscape mosaic of ecosystems. Additionally, detailed site reconnaissance should
be carried out for selected portions of the basin, where warranted, through analysis of the GIS data base
and aerial photographs.
The short time frame for this study did not allow a thorough assessment of the wildlife
resources in the Econ Basin. The most accurate method of delineating sites within the basin which may
require special protection would be through systematic species' surveys. The need for this is
exemplified by the fact that only 8 of the 39 listed (endangered, threatened, and special concern) species
that are assumed to occur in the basin have been documented. The cursory surveys that have been
conducted to date would be unlikely to document species such as the bluetail mole skink, Bachman's
sparrow and gopher frog. A systematic survey schedule for all classes of wildlife in different
community types would take at least one year. Data obtained from these surveys would greatly enhance
the assumptions upon which decisions determining the fate of the basin's wildlife resources will be
Historical Site Survey and Model
It is recommended that all future systematic surveys locating cultural resources include
systematic subsurface testing. Methodologies for all surveys should be comparable in order to acquire
data which can be readily utilized to develop a predictive model for the basin. It is recommended that
these methodologies follow the guidelines promulgated by the FDHR (1988).
Data generated from existing and future surveys can be use in a future research efforts designed
specifically to develop predictive locational models for the basin. Such a project would require
additional archival research, acquisition of environmental information for the basin, subsurface sampling
of all represented environmental zones in order to acquire basic data for development of the model, and
field testing of the model in selected portions of the basin. The model should include a comprehensive
cultural history of the basin as well as statistical analysis of the data and mapping of the levels of
sensitivity present within the project area. The model should also provide guidance for its application
and provisions for updating it as additional data is acquired.
Basinwide Natural Resource Development and Protection Plan
The process that has culminated in the preparation of this CAMP plan is only the first phase of
needed research to adequately address the long-term needs of a rapidly developing watershed. The
critical work has been done; gaps in the existing regulatory framework have been surveyed and
suggestions made to overcome the perceived weaknesses, lands have been identified for acquisition, and
a basinwide system of conservation and wildlands corridors suggested. However, as the result of the
macroscopic approach taken, by necessity, this CAMP plan should not be the final say as to how the
basin is managed. More detail is needed and the work presented here needs time to mature in a way
that will allow a more complete and integrated basinwide plan for the future development and protection
of the Econ's resources. The following are suggestions for Phase II research and planning that are
necessary components for development of the Basinwide Natural Resources Development and Protection
1) Systematic surveys of acquisition suggestions, wildlands corridors, conservation zone
and Big Econ headwaters.
2) Detailed stormwater analysis of the Upper Little Econ watershed with particular
emphasis on delineation of regional wetland detention basin location and size.
a) Develop perspective for funding of operation and maintenance of the
b) Develop overall plan for location and size of basins within the upper basin.
3) Develop potential local government regulations that reinforce the goals and objectives
of the CAMP plan.
4) Quantitatively analyze the impacts of further development in the basin so that CAMP
plan recommendations can be further tailored to the basin. Of concern are the
a) Further urbanization impacts on surface water quality and quantity.
b) Increases in wasterwater discharges.
c) Increased discharges from the Stanton Energy Center.
5) Analyze and simulate the effectiveness of the CAMP plan suggestions and
recommendations in meeting the overall goal of no net declines in the quality and
quantity of natural and cultural resources of the basin.
m II URBANIZE! PORTIONS OF LITTLE ECON
HEADIATERS OF BIG ECON
ALL XERIC COMMUNITIES
~ RIVER CORRIDOR OF BIG & LITTLE ECON
FLOODPLAIN WETLANDS QF BIG & LITTLE ECON
W IILDLANDS CORRIDORS
ACQU Anlysis PrentaoISITION
S CARL PROJECT PROTECTION
EN ICP AND RYBOLT PROPERTY
From Land Use/Land Cover Prepared By
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SMANAGEMENT & PROTECTION
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0 > Management District
M3 > Center For Wetlands
> C/ Remote Sensing & GIS Lab
C/) University of Florida
z January 1990
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIA WAS, UIoVERSITY OF FLORIDA GAINESVI FL 2102I