Perry Oldenburg - Habitat and Management
Habitats provide the food, water, shelter and space animals need to thrive and reproduce. The predominant habitat at Perry Oldenburg is longleaf pine sandhills, which are found on the higher slopes. This habitat is characterized by longleaf pine, turkey oak, wiregrass, shiny blueberry, gopher apple and runner oak. Selective timber cutting and cattle grazing on other stands of longleaf pine ended just prior to state purchase in the early 1990s and pines are naturally regenerating in these areas. Other native habitats include mesic hammock and basin marsh. The latter is often dry due to prolonged drought.
Perry Oldenburg was acquired with funds received through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Mitigation Park Program. Management is directed toward restoring and maintaining critical habitats for the long-term benefit of state and federally listed upland species, particularly the gopher tortoise, Florida mouse, southeastern kestrel and Sherman’s fox squirrel.
Fire historically played a vital role in maintaining the longleaf pine/wiregrass sandhill community at Perry Oldenburg and regular prescribed fire is the primary management tool used at this site. Most burning consists primarily of growing season burns. Longleaf pine and wiregrass are dependent upon growing season burns for seed germination and establishment. Burns during this season also help control encroaching hardwoods. These regular burns maintain the open canopy and ground cover of herbs and grasses that benefit the Sherman’s fox squirrel and the gopher tortoise, gopher frog, Florida mouse and other animals that share the tortoise's burrow.
A significant long-term management problem facing Perry Oldenburg is the control of cogongrass, an aggressive invasive, nonnative plant that occurs within the WEA and on private land just outside area boundaries. Burning is used on a limited basis as a pretreatment measure prior to fall and spring season herbicide applications.
Pastures on adjoining properties and the powerline right-of-way provide kestrel foraging habitat. Wooden nest box structures have been installed to promote kestrel nesting. In addition to the management work described here, FWC biologists rely on a wide range of techniques to ensure that natural areas throughout the state stay healthy for wildlife and inviting to visitors.