Help plan the future of Suwannee Ridge WEA
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Media contact: Diane Hirth, 850-410-5291; Karen Parker, 386-754-1294
A 10-year plan for the Suwannee Ridge Wildlife and Environmental Area (WEA) will be presented at a Thursday, Oct. 3, public hearing in Hamilton County.
People are invited to attend the 7 p.m. public hearing at the Hamilton County Commission Chambers, 207 NE 1st Street, in Jasper.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff will present the draft land management plan for FWC-managed portions of the Suwannee WEA, and people will be encouraged to comment and ask questions. For more information on the upcoming local public hearing, go to MyFWC.com/Conservation and select “Terrestrial Programs” then “Management Plans.”
The 1,428-acre Suwannee Ridge WEA is 1 mile north of the Suwannee River on land once used for commercial timbering. It is being restored to a native longleaf pine and wiregrass community. The use of prescribed fire and the planting of native trees and grasses on this WEA will help support upland wildlife such as the Sherman’s fox squirrel and threatened gopher tortoise. There also are small areas of hardwood hammock, hardwood swamp and sinkhole depressions, reflective of the area’s proximity to the forested floodplain of the nearby Suwannee River.
Hiking and wildlife viewing are popular recreational activities within Suwannee Ridge WEA, where people may catch a sight of wild turkey, wood duck, swallow-tail and Mississippi kites, pine warbler, eastern bluebird, white-tailed deer and indigo snake. The WEA also hosts special hunts during the fall and spring for people with disabilities.
“Suwannee Ridge WEA was purchased to ensure the preservation of fish and wildlife resources, other natural and cultural resources, and for fish and wildlife-based public outdoor recreation,” said Rebecca Shelton, FWC land conservation biologist. “This draft plan will specify how we intend to do that.”
All lands purchased with public funds must have a management plan that ensures the property will be managed in a manner that is consistent with the intended purposes of the purchase.
Hunting and fishing regulations are not included in this plan or meeting; those are addressed through a separate public process.
To obtain a copy of the draft land management prospectus for Suwannee Ridge WEA, call Julie Kilgore at 850-487-7063 or email Julie.Kilgore@MyFWC.com.
For background on management plans and their goals, visit MyFWC.com/Conservation and select “Terrestrial Programs.”
For more on the Suwannee Ridge WEA, go to MyFWC.com/Viewing and select “Wildlife Management Areas” and “Explore by Name.”