"The topography…is greatly diversified, and the eye is not
wearied by monotonous stretches of low lands and lonely pine
forests." Hernando County Real Estate promotion, 1885
Within Chassahowitzka an extensive expanse of
hardwood swamp is punctuated with creeks, marshes, scrub islands,
and springs. Tidal marsh is found directly along the coast in the
National Wildlife Refuge.
Farther inland are flatwoods and sandhill
interspersed with wet prairies, freshwater marshes, and cypress
domes. Running north-south about 3 to 4 miles from the coast on
historic sand dunes are remnants of the rare scrub community.
Plant and animal communities at Chassahowitzka WMA
have been modified by past human activities. These included logging
(pines, cypress, and red cedar trees), constructing associated
roads and railroad trams, converting native habitats to pine
plantations, pasture, and citrus groves, and suppressing fires.
Through a contract with the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI),
the Commission mapped the current plant communities; in the future,
historic plant communities will also be mapped. This information
guides habitat management and restoration.
Commercial stands of planted slash and sand pines
are cleared or thinned and replanted with longleaf pine seedlings.
Pastures may be treated with herbicide and reseeded with native
grasses and pines. When necessary, overgrown scrub habitat is first
chopped and then burned. Periodic fire will replenish and maintain
scrub habitat that may one day be home to the threatened
Thousands of acres of Chassahowitzka WMA are covered by hardwood
swamps and forests, and punctuated by creeks, marshes, and springs.
These wetlands work hard, providing flood protection and storm
buffering to nearby communities; replenishing the drinking water
aquifer below the land's surface; sheltering wildlife such as the
Florida black bear; and providing clean, fresh water to the
productive coastal marshes. To protect these functions, managers
are working with the Florida Springs Initiative to locate and map
springs and other sensitive wetlands and limit public access, when
Invasive nonnative plants such as skunk vine, cogongrass, and air
potato are controlled through chemical or mechanical means.
Recreational hunting keeps the population of nonnative feral hogs
in check. They cause great harm when they uproot plants and
historical artifacts as they search for food.