Lake Wales Ridge
National Wildlife Refuge
Ron Hight, Project Leader
Merritt Island NWR
P.O. Box 6504
Titusville, FL 32782
Phone: 321/861 0667
Fax: 321/861 1276
* Established: 1990.
* Acres: 1,194 (Currently four
* Located in Polk and Highlands
* Location: Lake McLeod Tract (30
acres) located one mile south of
the community of Eagle Lake on
Gerber Dairy Road.
* Snell Creek Tract (135 acres)
located five miles east of
Davenport on SR 531.
* Carter Creek Tract (629 acres)
located ten miles southeast of
Avon Park on Arbuckle
* Flamingo Villas Tract (1171
acres) located five miles east of
Sebring on SR 98.
* Administered by Merritt
* First refuge established
specifically for recovery of
* Contains 23 listed plants, more
than 40 endemic plants, and four
threatened wildlife species.
* The ridge is an ancient beach and
sand dune system formed one to
three million years ago. The
sandy, nutrient poor soils support
a unique community of plants and
animals. Many of the plants are
found nowhere else in the world
outside the Lake Wales Ridge.
* Today, about 85% of the original
scrub habitats have been lost to
development. The refuge is part
of a network of scrub preserves
owned by the state of Florida,
The Nature Conservancy
Financial Impacts of Refuge
* Refuge is an unmanned satellite
of Merritt Island NWR.
* The refuge is currently being
acquired and it will be some time
before sites are opened to
* Protect, restore and manage
ancient scrub habitats.
* Work in partnership towards the
recovery of unique, threatened
and endangered endemic plants
* Increase public understanding
and appreciation through
education and compatible
* Prescribed fire to restore and
maintain the scrub ecosystem.
* Mechanical chopping of
overgrown scrub prior to
* Mechanical/chemical control of
* Fencing and signing to protect
* Law enforcement to provide site
* Public outreach and education to
build public ii1. -I:I'linIL*.
appreciation, and support.
* Research relative to best
management practices for
Public Use Opportunities
None at this time.
Calendar of Events
March: Greater Lake Wales Ridge
October: Scrub Appreciation Day.
Lake Wa1 ~ lesU Ridg NatiUL al Wlif R11 u ge
Questions and Answers
W1, I was the refuge established?
The Lake Wales Ridge NWR is home
to plants and animals found nowhere
else in the world. Unfortunately, 85
percent of the original ridge habitat
has been lost to citrus production and
During the late 1980s, a group of
scientists conceived the purchase of a
system of sanctuaries that would
protect the best remaining parcels of
habitat to ensure the survival of the
plants and animals of this vanishing
ecosystem. The State of Florida, The
Nature Conservancy, and the Fish
and Wildlife Service are working in
partnership to ensure the long term
protection of the native plants,
animals and natural communities of
this unique region of central Florida.
What makes the Lake Wales Ridge
NWR unique ?
The 2.3 million year old scrub
ecosystem of the Lake Wales Ridge
NWR is Florida's oldest natural
system. The ridge formed when sea
levels were much higher than today.
During this period all that remained
above sea level of the Florida
peninsula was a series of islands,
similar to the way the Bahamas
appear today. Isolated from other
populations the plants and animals on
these isolated archipelagoes evolved in
response to their environmental
Today, the seas have receded and the
sandy hilltops along the central
Florida ridge are home to 23 of the
nation's rarest plants, four rare animal
species, and four globally rare plant
communities. In addition, scientists
estimate that fully one- third of the
species in the region including a
variety of arthropods have evolved
How is the Lake Wales Ridge NWR
Since the mid-1980s, the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, the State of
Florida, The Nature Conservancy,
and other government and private
entities have invested more than $75
million in purchasing 19 scrub
In 1994, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service purchased its first scrub tract
on the ridge, establishing the
country's first national wildlife refuge
for endangered plants. The Service is
currently purchasing four tracts that
may eventually total about 2,400
The State of Florida has made the
Lake Wales Ridge NWR one of their
highest priority purchases and is
purchasing 10 tracts. The Nature
Conservancy, Archbold Biological
Station and Bok Tower Gardens are
private conservation landowners
involved in the project. As land
management programs were being
developed mangers from the private,
state and Federal agencies
recognized the need to coordinate and
share information, planning, and
problem solving across the landscape.
To this end, the Lake Wales Ridge
Ecosystem Working Group was
established in 1991.
In 1996, the working group began
developing an ecosystem
management plan that includes fire
management, species inventory and
I',iirii-.. development of GIS data
-! l,.1.. and an ecosystem-wide
community education and outreach