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Help plan the future of Crooked Lake Wildlife and Environmental Area

Media contact: Melody Kilborn, 863-648-3852; Diane Hirth, 850-251-2130 Release Date: 02-13-2019   All Articles Tags:

A 10-year plan for the Crooked Lake Wildlife and Environmental Area will be presented on Thursday, Feb. 21 at a public hearing in Polk County.

People are invited to the 7 p.m. public hearing at the Polk County Neil Combee Administration Building, 330 Church St., Room 431, in Bartow.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff will present the draft land management plan for the FWC-managed Crooked Lake 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 Conservation” then “Management Plans.”

This former cattle and citrus ranch was acquired to manage habitats critical to the gopher tortoise and other imperiled and locally important wildlife. The wood stork, sandhill crane, southeastern American kestrel, southern fox squirrel, indigo snake, Florida mouse, gopher frog and American alligator are among the native species living here. Pine flatwoods, sandhill, scrub, swamps, hardwood forests and rare cutthroat grass provide quality habitat for numerous species of wildlife.

Visitors to this WEA in southeastern Polk County have many opportunities for outdoor recreation, including wildlife viewing, hiking, biking and horseback riding.

“Crooked Lake WEA was purchased to ensure the conservation of fish and wildlife resources, other natural and cultural resources, and for 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 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 land management prospectus for Crooked Lake WEA, call Dylan Imlah at 850-487-9102 or email Dylan.Imlah@MyFWC.com.

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

For more on Crooked Lake WEA and other wildlife management areas, go to MyFWC.com, select “Things to Do” and click on Recreation on Wild Lands.