A portion of the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Black Creek Ravines Conservation Area is undergoing sandhill restoration as part of its long-term forest management and ecological restoration/enhancement plan. The 160-acre restoration area is in the sandhill west of the powerline corridor.
Sandhill habitat is an imperiled natural community. Many wildlife species, including threatened species, are specific to sandhill communities. Species include gopher tortoises, Southern (Sherman’s) fox squirrels and eastern indigo snakes.
Restoring this portion of Black Creek Ravines to its natural habitat is part of the District’s long-term management plan. Prior to the District’s acquisition of the property, most of the mature overstory longleaf pine at Black Creek Ravines was harvested (prior to the early 1940s) and areas eventually became pastureland, where laurel and water oak began to encroach. Many of these invasive trees have previously been treated with herbicides, as they would not have been found in sandhill habitat if natural fire had not been suppressed for nearly a century.
The restoration project includes using mechanical treatment techniques to remove the dead trees and to reduce the oak canopy to proper densities for the sandhill community. The treatment will allow for the natural reseeding of longleaf pines and wiregrass, which are in decline due to human activity. The final step of the treatment is pile burning, which is anticipated to continue through Summer 2024, and by prescribed burns on an 18- to 36-month cycle to keep the habitat healthy and to enhance the native sandhill species.
While the treatment may be temporarily unsightly, given time and proper land management, the land will be rejuvenated, which often includes increased plant diversity, improved ecosystem health, and improved vistas.
About this property
Visitors will see a remarkable number of different Florida landscapes here, with elevations ranging from five feet above mean sea level at points along Black Creek to 90 feet above mean sea level on the sandhills. Some areas within the conservation area are classified as being imperiled in Florida because of their rarity and vulnerability to natural or man-made factors. Consisting primarily of pine flatwoods, sandhills and wetlands, this property’s most distinctive characteristics are the seepage slopes and steep ravines that result from a series of naturally eroding seepage streams. These sensitive ecosystems support a wide variety of native aquatic and wetland-dependent species. About 2.7 miles of the south shore of Black Creek is protected to maintain the important recharge functions of the upland sandhill community.
One of the special highlights of this property is its ravine system, which is almost a mile in length and almost 95 feet deep. Ravines are created when an underground soil layer, typically comprised of dense clay, prevents rainwater from percolating downward through the soil layers and into the water table and instead forces the water to move laterally across the landscape, creating natural erosion that begins as a small gully and over time grows into a large ravine. Additionally, one of the features not to be missed at Black Creek Ravines is the spectacular overlook of Black Creek. The bluff stands almost 30 feet above the creek, an elevation rarely seen in Florida and provides a breath-taking view of the creek.
Please respect Florida’s wildlife and use caution while visiting district lands. These are wild animals. For your safety, do not approach or feed any wild animal. The conservation area has a variety of listed species, including gopher tortoises and Black Creek crayfish. Roosting and nesting wading birds also make their home here. Other wildlife seen in the area include the pine snake, bald eagle, otter, deer, several species of woodpeckers, owl, bobcat, heron, egret, fox, raccoon and alligator.
- Hiking, horseback riding, fishing, primitive camping at designated sites, wildlife viewing and nature study.
- Boating and canoeing opportunities are available on Black Creek, and the property is accessible by water; however, there are no launches located on the property.
- Geocache located on property. Please visit our geocache database for more information.
The area can be accessed on Green Road, north of County Road 218. For details and to get driving directions from your location, see the Google Maps link on this page.