Fisheating Creek - Habitat and Management
Fisheating Creek itself is a high-quality, free-flowing blackwater stream. The tea-colored water results from the swamps and the marshes through which the source of its water flows. Extensive forested wetlands and floodplain marsh buffer the creek for most of its route. Closer to Lake Okeechobee some areas have been converted to rangeland for cattle.
Although dry and wet prairies are found on the area, they are more extensive on the neighboring conservation easement. Prairies are interspersed with hundreds of small depression marshes. Dry prairie is characterized by saw palmetto, dwarf live oak, gallberry, shiny blueberry, yellow-eyed grass, southern bog button, dwarf St. Johns wort, and wiregrass. Wet prairie is generally found grading into dry prairie and often on the edges of depression marshes. Characteristic plants include yellow colic root, maidencane, toothache grass, bachelor's buttons, white-topped sedge, sand cord grass, and beak rushes.
Portions of Fisheating Creek WMA have been modified through drainage and suppression of fire and through agricultural or forestry practices. Natural communities are maintained primarily through prescribed fire, cattle grazing, and mechanical and chemical treatments. In the spring, some areas are roller chopped to maintain good brood habitat for turkeys.
Invasive plants, both native and non-native, are a problem on Fisheating Creek WMA as they are on many public lands and public waters throughout the state. Wetland nightshade, a member of the tomato family from South America, forms dense, impenetrable mats covered with thorns. Control of wetland nightshade is especially difficult because once berries are formed, the plant, even when treated with herbicide, will not die until the berries ripen (up to four weeks).
In addition to the management work described here, biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rely on a wide range of techniques to ensure that natural areas throughout the state stay healthy for wildlife and inviting to visitors.