Federal award benefits district lands in Volusia, Flagler, Orange counties

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife award will help the St. Johns River Water Management District improve habitat at Lake Monroe Conservation Area, home to the Florida Scrub-jay.

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife award will help the St. Johns River Water Management District improve habitat at Lake Monroe Conservation Area, home to the Florida Scrub-jay.

PALATKA, Fla., Nov. 16, 2018 — Thanks to a $51,000 award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), habitat improvements will occur at St. Johns River Water Management District properties: Hal Scott Regional Preserve and Park in Orange County, Lake Monroe Conservation Area in Volusia County and Pellicer Creek Conservation Area in Flagler County. The district will provide matching funds and in-kind services.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to partner with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and improve habitats on three fronts for listed species,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “Although our primary purpose for owning land is to protect water resources, we share a common goal with our partner to restore habitat for rare species that include the eastern indigo snake, Florida Scrub-jay, gopher tortoise and Red-cockaded Woodpecker.”

“This agreement is part of an ongoing partnership with the district to improve habitat for at-risk species,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife official Joseph Prenger, State Coordinator for USFWS Partners for the Fish and Wildlife Program. “One of the primary goals is to reduce threats to species to avoid the need to federally list them, and to de-list or reclassify those that are already considered threatened or endangered.”

Under the agreement between the two agencies, habitat improvements at the three locations call for:

  • Restoring 7.3 acres of an ancient sandhill at Pellicer Creek Conservation Area, including the removal of undesirable vegetation and restoring native ground cover
  • Improving habitat for the rare Red-cockaded Woodpecker by mowing heavy ground cover and using prescribed fire as a management tool at Hal Scott Regional Preserve and Park
  • Building fire lines and mowing vegetation to a desirable height to accommodate native animal species at Lake Monroe Conservation Area