Hickey Creek - Habitat and Management
Habitats provide the food, water, shelter and space animals need to thrive and reproduce. The primary habitat at Hickey Creek is scrubby flatwoods. The diverse habitat mosaic also includes smaller areas of mesic and wet flatwoods, scrub and mesic hammock. Depression marshes occur in the pine flatwoods. Hickey’s Creek meanders through the site for approximately one mile in a southeast to northwest direction. Forested wetlands associated with the creek occur intermittently. Protected plants that occur at Hickey Creek include giant leather fern, wild coco, rein orchid, hand fern, wild pine and Simpson's stopper.
The WEA’s original acreage was acquired using funds paid by developers through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Mitigation Park Program. FWC is responsible for the resource management of the area; activities are directed toward the restoration and maintenance of critical habitats to the long-term benefit of state and federally listed upland species, particularly the gopher tortoise and Florida scrub-jay and to preserve the hydrology and water quality of Hickey's Creek. Lee County provides funding and staffing for the operation of recreational facilities, boundary protection, environmental education and the control of invasive nonnative vegetation such as melaleuca and Brazilian pepper.
Roller chopping of dense palmetto stands and prescribed burning maintain the herbaceous groundcover favored by the gopher tortoise. Prescribed fire also helps maintain the scrub character of the flatwoods to benefit the Florida scrub-jay. Both fire and mechanical management maintain open sand areas in which scrub-jays cache acorns. Longleaf and slash pines were planted in an abandoned citrus grove. Nonnative feral hogs are trapped to prevent damage to groundcover vegetation.
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.