News Releases

Help plan the future of Split Oak Forest Wildlife and Environmental Area

News Release

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Media contact: Diane Hirth, 850-410-5291; Greg Workman, 352-620-7335

Photos available on the FWC’s Flickr site: External Website

A 10-year plan for the management of Split Oak Forest Wildlife and Environmental Area will be presented at a public hearing in Osceola County on Thursday, July 14. People are invited to the 7 p.m. hearing in the Osceola County Commission Chambers on the fourth floor of the Administration Building, 1 Courthouse Square, Kissimmee.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff will present the draft land management plan for the FWC-managed WEA, and people will be encouraged to comment and ask questions. For more information on the upcoming local public hearing, go to and select “Terrestrial Programs” then “Management Plans.”

Located 16 miles southeast of Orlando, Split Oak Forest WEA is named for its signature 200-year-old live oak tree that is split down the middle but still able to survive. The WEA’s 1,689 acres of wildlife habitat are managed as a mitigation area for imperiled species, particularly for the gopher tortoise but also for the swallow-tailed kite, sandhill crane and Sherman’s fox squirrel.

Bordered by Lake Hart to the north and Lake Mary Jane to the northeast, the WEA is a peaceful retreat near a busy urban area for people who want to hike and observe wildlife. From trails winding through scrubby flatwoods and from two viewing platforms, visitors can see a diversity of Florida wildlife, rare plants and colorful wildflowers. They also may spot common species such as the white-tailed deer, wild turkey and red-headed woodpecker. 

 “Split Oak Forest WEA was acquired through a partnership with the Florida Communities Trust program, Osceola and Orange counties and the FWC to protect and conserve quality gopher tortoise habitat, as well as to ensure the preservation of fish and wildlife resources, other natural and cultural resources, and for passive fish- and wildlife-based public outdoor recreation,” said Dylan Imlah, FWC land conservation planner. “This draft plan will specify how we intend to do that.”

All lands owned by the State of Florida or other entities that were donated or purchased with state funds for conservation must have a management plan that ensures the property will be managed in a manner consistent with the intended purposes of the donation or purchase. Fishing and hunting regulations are not included in this plan or meeting; those are addressed through a separate public process.

To obtain a copy of the land management prospectus for Split Oak Forest WEA, call Sarah Pierce at 850-487-7063 or email

For more information and background on management plans and their goals, visit and select “Terrestrial” then “Management Plans.”

For more information on the Split Oak Forest WEA, go to and select “Wildlife Viewing” then “Wildlife Management Areas.”

FWC Facts:
Ospreys, also known as "fish hawks," are expert anglers that like to hover above the water, locate their prey and then swoop down for the capture with talons extended.

Learn More at AskFWC