Tosohatchee's numerous streams, freshwater marshes and swamps, pine flatwoods, and hammocks are part of a mosaic of publicly-owned land within the St. Johns River Watershed.

ferns
Tosohatchee ferns

Over the past 100 years, changes in the hydrology (amount and timing of water flow across the landscape), coupled with fire suppression, commercial timbering operations, and cattle grazing, have altered environmental conditions and changed the composition of some of the plant communities. Despite these changes, Tosohatchee has continued to attract and sustain many resident and migratory wildlife species and offers visitors a glimpse of wild Florida along the St. Johns River.

 

See Major Natural Communities.

 

Restoration and management

prescribed burn of a wet flatwood
Prescribed burn

Plant and animal communities at Tosohatchee have been shaped by alternating cycles of fire and flood. Past human activities - canal construction, logging, road or utility easement construction, and the exclusion of fire - changed the landscape. Through a contract with the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI), FWC will map both the current and the historic plant communities. This information will be used to guide habitat management and restoration.

To correct hydrological changes, which diverted water from the WMA and reduced water retention times and levels, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will continue to restore historic flows. These techniques include filling some ditches and canals, constructing culverts and bridges or low-water crossings on roads, and working with adjacent landowners to improve the quality and quantity of water moving through Tosohatchee's habitats. Freshwater marshes overgrown with cabbage palms, wax myrtles, and other shrubs, which became established during artificially dry conditions, are mechanically removed just prior to burning. Pine stands that have become too dense due to over-planting or fire exclusion are selectively thinned and then burned to reduce accumulated debris and eliminate encroaching hardwoods. Because the WMA is quite wet in the summer, prescribed burns are conducted in spring and early summer when conditions permit. Native groundcovers, important to wildlife, will grow vigorously in these burned areas when summer rains begin.

Nonnative invasive plants such as Chinese tallow, cogon grass, Brazilian pepper, and wild taro, are removed using environmentally-safe chemicals and careful use of heavy equipment.

Feral hogs exist at moderate to high densities. This nonnative species causes great harm to native wildlife populations and vegetation when it uproots plants in search of food. The population is controlled through hunting.



FWC Facts:
Spring and summer are the best times to listen for the elusive 5-inch Bachman's sparrow. Their song begins with a loud, clear whistle followed by an extended trill.

Learn More at AskFWC