Within Babcock/Webb is one of the largest expanses of hydric (wet) pine flatwoods remaining in Florida and habitat to several listed species of plants and animals. To the human eye the landscape appears flat, but is actually slightly rolling, ridges rising 20 to 40 feet above mean sea level. Freshwater marshes, seasonal ponds, hardwood hammocks, and prairies are interspersed throughout the flatwoods.
Six man-made ponds and the 395-acre artificially constructed Webb Lake provide habitat for aquatic species as well as recreational opportunities. During the summer rainy season, a majority of the area may be flooded for brief periods.
The pine flatwoods of Babcock/Webb are home to the largest known population of the very rare beautiful pawpaw. Listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Department of Agriculture, the beautiful pawpaw is endemic to Charlotte and Lee counties. Flowering (usually from late March through May) tends to occur only after a fire or mowing of new growth. The beautiful pawpaw has fragrant white flowers and a 3-inch long fruit resembling a lumpy bean pod. The greatest threat to the beautiful pawpaw is destruction of habitat for residential development.
Heavy thickets of palmetto have encroached on many places on Babcock/Webb. This overgrown palmetto was not present historically and has reduced the habitat for native plants and wildlife. Single pass roller chopping is used to reduce heavily overgrown palmetto areas and to return the vegetation to the primary stages of plant succession, benefiting many species of wildlife. Roller chopping also reduces the volume of volatile fuels.
Babcock/Webb now has an annual all-season burning program to further reduce hazardous fuel accumulation, to improve wildlife habitat, and to restore fire-dependent ecological communities. Fire is important for maintaining communities favored by the beautiful pawpaw and the red-cockaded woodpecker.