Putnam Lakes Preserve | 690 Acres | Putnam Co.
Reasons for Preservation
Habitat and Wildlife Protection
The Putnam Lakes Preserve encompasses a variety of habitats including marshes, freshwater lakes, sandhill, oak hammock, floodplain swamp along Little Orange Creek, as well as areas of planted slash and longleaf pine. This combination of unique habitats has the potential to support important native wildlife, including threatened and endangered species such as the gopher tortoise, striped newt, gopher frog and sand skink. The lake supports populations of wading birds such as the little blue heron and wood stork, and upland pine areas provide habitat for the Florida black bear and Sherman’s fox squirrel.
Moving forward, the property will need to be managed and restored to benefit ecosystem health and support wildlife habitat. NFLT’s goals for management and stewardship of the property will be to maintain existing natural ecosystems and restore habitat through practices like planting of longleaf pine and introduction of prescribed fire.
Species which could benefit from the preservation of the Putnam Lakes Preserve. From left to right: Striped newt, little blue heron, gopher tortoise, Sherman’s fox squirrel, Florida black bear, gopher frog
The “Ocala to Osceola Corridor” (O2O) encompasses a more than 80-mile long “wildlife corridor” of rural and natural lands recognized for its landscape conservation value and as part of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. The O2O is anchored by two large public tracts, the Ocala and Osceola National Forests. Including these Forests, the O2O consists of a network of public and private forests that provides habitat for 16 Threatened or Endangered species, other imperiled species, and wide-ranging mammals such as the Florida black bear. North Florida Land Trust now leads the effort to conserve lands within the O2O Corridor, partnering with state and federal agencies and NGOs in the region. Existing public lands comprise about 40% of the O2O, and the remainder is a mixture of privately owned lands and working forests.
The purchase and stewardship of the Putnam Lakes Preserve is another step in continuing the conservation of the O2O Corridor.
Putnam Lakes Preservation Priority Area
North Florida Land Trust’s operating area encompasses over three million acres in Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Flagler, Baker, Clay and Putnam Counties. To focus efforts and prioritize lands which should be preserved, North Florida Land Trust developed a tool to identify areas with the highest natural, agricultural and historic values, as well as areas most at risk from population growth and sea level rise. NFLT used this tool to identify focus areas now referred to as “Preservation Priority Areas (PPAs).” North Florida Land Trust concentrates its preservation efforts on the 112,000 acres of land within these Preservation Priority Areas. The tract is located within NFLT’s Putnam Lakes Preservation Priority Area.
Putnam Lakes PPA: In Florida, nearly all 20 million citizens get their water from the Floridan aquifer, which is expected to reach capacity in the next several decades. It is paramount that we do all we can to protect recharge to the aquifer. Not all areas are equal in that regard, as some locations in Florida are “super-seeps” for recharge that can easily be destroyed by development or poor land management. The Putnam Lakes district in southwest Putnam County, including the Ware Forest tract, is characterized by seepage lakes and highly permeable sand soils which make it a superior aquifer recharge area within the state.
Another significant motivating factor for the acquisition of this property is the adjacency to other conservation lands. The Putnam Lakes Preserve is adjacent to two properties to the south which are conserved by conservation easements held by the St. Johns River Water Management District.
Potential Public Access Opportunities
The natural beauty and range of ecosystems on the Putnam Lakes Preserve makes it an attractive opportunity as a public preserve with recreational access. After acquisition, North Florida Land Trust staff would undergo a planning process to design potential public access entry points and amenities for the preserve. Consideration would also be given to the most appropriate types of recreation allowed on the site, including activities such as hiking and equestrian use. Initial improvements would include a designated parking area, trail improvements, and installation of fencing and gates as needed.
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