The district partnered with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Conservation Trust for Florida (CTF) to purchase this conservation land from Rayonier Inc. in 2015. The 4,900-acre property provides a buffer where forests capture rainwater to recharge the aquifer and augment the flow of nearby Silver Springs. The purchase also protects the headwaters of Half Mile Creek and an unnamed tributary that flow into the Silver and Ocklawaha rivers, which are designated as Outstanding Florida Waters. The tract includes 378 acres of wetlands along these two creeks. Other benefits of the property include reducing nitrate loading into springs and rivers, allowing for hydrologic restoration that will result in water quality improvement, and creating opportunities for water storage. The property links Indian Lake State Forest, Silver Springs State Park, the Cross Florida Greenway and district-managed lands to the Ocala National Forest. Natural communities on the property range from flatwoods to hydric hammock and bottomland forest. Most of the uplands on Silver Springs Forest Conservation Area are currently in pine plantations.
A portion of the funding used to acquire this property came from the Forest Legacy Program, a joint federal and state government initiative with the goal of promoting sustainable forestry practices, and protecting natural, cultural and recreational resources. The Conservation Trust for Florida, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit land trust, raised additional funds for the purchase of the property via contributions from charitable foundations and individuals who supported the project.
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. Wildlife commonly seen on the property include Florida black bear, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, raccoon and bobcat. Birding can be quite rewarding, particularly in the bottomland forests during fall and spring migration.
- Hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, fishing, wildlife viewing and nature study.
- The first entrance is from Country Road 326, approximately 1.5 miles north of State Road 40 (6381 E Highway 326, Silver Springs, FL 34488).
- The second entrance is on County Road 315, approximately 1 mile north of State Road 40 (4110 NE Highway 315, Silver Springs, FL 34488).
- The equestrian trailhead is on County Road 35, approximately 2 miles north of County Road 326 (7699 NE 58th Avenue, Anthony, FL 32617). Horse access is recommended from Baseline Road.