Current condition: Poor and declining.
According to the best available GIS information at this time,
- 753,547 acres (304,950 ha) of Sandhill habitat exist, of which
- 46% (348,512 ac; 141,038 ha) are in conservation or managed areas.
- 5% (35,052 ac; 14,185 ha) are in Florida Forever projects
- 5% (34,517; 13,969 ha) are in SHCA-designated lands.
- 45% (335,466; 135,758 ha) are other private lands.
Sandhill communities occur only in north and
central Florida in areas of gently rolling terrain on deep, well-drained, mostly yellow, sterile lands. This xeric community is dominated by an overstory of widely spaced, scattered longleaf pine, alone with an understory of turkey oak, sand post oak, and bluejack oak. The park-like ground cover consists of various grasses and herbs, including wiregrass, lopsided Indian grass, bluestems, blazing star, partridge pea, beggars tick, milk pea, queen's delight, and others. Due to the poor water retention properties of the soils and open canopy, temperature and humidity fluctuate rapidly and frequently in this habitat compared to high moisture closed-canopy forests. However, many temporary wetlands are found throughout sandhill landscapes and are an integral part of this habitat type, providing breeding and foraging habitat for many wildlife species. Sandhill is a community that is sustained by ground fires with short return intervals to reduce hardwood intrusion and to promote flowering of many grasses and herbs. In the absence of fire, sandhill will eventually succeed into a xeric hammock. Sand pine can quickly invade sandhills where seed sources are available and fires are suppressed.
What is being done to conserve Sandhill?
Sandhill restoration activities supported by Florida's Wildlife Legacy Initiative have included planting longleaf pine and wiregrass on degraded sites, removing invasive species, reducing hardwoods and sand pines in overgrown areas, and increasing the amount of sandhill that is managed with prescribed fire (controlled burns). From 2006-2011, State Wildlife Grants funded projects affecting over 32,000 acres of sandhill habitat.
A major focus of our work in sandhill and scrub has been supporting fire management. Both habitats require fire in order to function and support their unique wildlife species. Unfortunately many of Florida's uplands are overgrown due to a lack of fire. In order to restore fire to overgrown areas and prevent wildfires, we have supported several fire "strike teams" created by The Nature Conservancy in different parts of the state. These teams provide trained personnel and equipment to assist public and private land managers with controlled burns, fireline installation, and other land management activities like invasive species removal. The Northeast Florida Resource Management Support Team is a cooperative effort between The Nature Conservancy, the University of Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that was started using State Wildlife Grant funding to serve land managers in northeastern Florida.
Other Legacy-supported scrub and sandhill projects include the Common Species Common program within the FWC's Landowner Assistance Program, which provides funding and other incentives to restore wildlife habitat on private lands, and the Upland Ecosystem Restoration Project, which assists public and private land managers with planning and funding upland restoration projects.
View sandhill Project Posters
The following current and recent projects are examples of the work being done by a variety of conservation partners to restore and maintain sandhill habitat:
For more information, please contact Heather Hitt.
What wildlife species will benefit?