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Historic photo showing heaters in citrus groves
Photo credit: State Archives of Florida

Many of the upland portions of Hilochee were once planted in citrus, although this part of the state is susceptible to devastating freezes. Soon after the last major freeze in 1985, many acres of frozen groves were converted to slash pine plantations. Other portions of the area have been used for cattle ranching, hay fields, sod farms, vegetable production and sand or clay mining. Much of the cypress was logged out in recent decades, although now there is some regeneration.

Acquisition began in 1995 and has continued with the purchases of additional parcels including the Osprey Unit in 2000/2001. Funds for acquisition came from the Conservation and Recreation Lands (CARL) Program under the Green Swamp Carl Project, Preservation 2000 and the Florida Forever Program. The WMA falls within the Green Swamp Florida Forever Project (GSFFP), a larger area encompassing nearly 279,224 acres of cypress swamps, pine forests, citrus groves, mines and pastures.