Heart Island Conservation Area

Description

The district acquired this 14,246-acre property in 1994 with Preservation 2000 funds to protect water resources. At the time of purchase, the property had undergone extensive clear-cutting for the timber resources. The district has focused on planting longleaf pine to restore the area’s native plant community. In July 1998, wildfires burned more than 4,000 acres. The district is working to replant vegetation devastated by the wildfires. This conservation area is part of the 35,380-acre Lake George Wildlife Management Area. Hunting on the property is managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Natural communities include basin swamp, floodplain swamp, basin marsh, baygall, blackwater stream, hydric hammock, mesic flatwoods and scrub. Slash pine, cabbage palms and an undergrowth of saw palmetto and gallberry can be found in nearly all of the upland areas. Wetland areas contain various hardwoods, cypress, sweetbay, red bay, loblolly bay and wax myrtle thickets.

Wildlife viewing

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 mix of natural communities provides excellent habitat for a variety of species, including Florida black bear and gopher tortoise. Deer, otters, woodpeckers, songbirds, foxes, raccoons, alligators and a variety of snakes and lizards have been observed.

Recreational activities
  1. Hiking, horseback riding, seasonal hunting, bicycling, picnicking, wildlife viewing and primitive camping at designated sites
Access

The property can be accessed from three different roads: from U.S. 17 just south of State Road (SR) 40 — parking area with walk-through for bicycling, hiking and horseback riding; from SR 40 — parking area with walk-through; from SR 11 north of SR 40 — two parking areas on the west side of SR 11.