The Buddy Boys Property, currently named for the property owner (Buddy Boys Kountry Korner, LLC), consists of 64.5 acres of cypress swamp within NFLT’s 5,512-acre Sixmile Creek Preservation Priority Area. The land consists of majority cypress swamp, which provides important wildlife habitat for a variety of amphibians, fish, birds, and other species. Cypress swamp along Sixmile Creek is also important for maintaining water quality and buffering from major flood events. Sixmile Creek also has an important historical context, and preserving the lands surrounding the creek keeps this natural history alive and intact. William Bartram is easily Florida’s, and one of America’s most famous naturalists, known for roaming most of Florida and being one of the first to describe its many native ecosystems. On the banks of the St. Johns River, on Little Florence Cove near the mouth of Trout and Sixmile Creeks, Bartram founded his own small plantation. The Sixmile Creek preservation area captures much of the site of his historic plantation, the William Bartram Scenic Highway, and the “Old Florida” swamps along Sixmile Creek. This area is in the process of rapid development, losing most of the natural and historic character that Bartram so famously recorded. Preserving Buddy Boys Property will help maintain a remnant of Old Florida that early naturalists like William Bartram recorded.
Sixmile Creek is also critical as it sits at the freshwater to brackish transition zone, making the upstream sections targeted for preservation important to the resiliency of Sixmile Creek under sea level rise.
Reasons for Preservation
Natural Resource Preservation
The Buddy Boys Property contains a half-mile of frontage on Sixmile Creek, including quality cypress swamp habitat. The property protects freshwater wetlands along a section of the river adjacent to the 206-acre Sixmile Creek Preserve the Land Trust protected in 2016. These swamp habitats are important for their ability to filter pollutants from the air and water, thereby protecting the water quality of the freshwater Sixmile Creek.
In terms of species conservation, the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) has identified 36 rare, threatened, and endangered plant and animal species that are likely to inhabit the Buddy Boys Property. The following sample of species utilize habitat types which exist on and around the Property:
|Rafinesque’s Big-eared Bat||Declining|
|West Indian Manatee||Federally Endangered|
|River Otter||State Threatened|
|Gopher Frog||Species of Special Concern|
|Gopher Tortoise||State Threatened|
|Atlantic Salt Marsh Mink||Declining|
|Shortnose Sturgeon||Federally Endangered|
|Wood Stork||Federally Threatened|
|Osprey||Species of Special Concern|
|Atlantic Sturgeon||Federally Endangered|
These natural resources need preservation in part because they are critical to the resiliency of freshwater species under sea level rise. As sea level rises and salt water is forced further upstream, the freshwater habitats will slowly transform into salt water habitats, such as salt marsh. As a result, wildlife that depends on the downstream freshwater swamps will need to migrate further up the river channel to survive. It is important to protect these upstream habitats so that wildlife can seek refuge in a changing environment. Floodplain swamps like those within the Buddy Boys Property are abundant with wildlife including many imperiled and listed species. To ensure the survival of these species long into the future, we must protect the land on which these animals depend for their food and livelihood.
Another important feature of a floodplain swamp is its ability to store large amounts of water and thus prevent flooding in nearby developed areas. Swamps have the ability to regulate the flow and fluctuation of water levels, storing water during and after heavy rain events when the floodplains are inundated, and slowly releasing that water into the river in times of drought. Cypress trees are able to survive in both dry and wet conditions, and thus can withstand large changes in flood levels. Mucky soil beneath the trees’ roots absorbs large amounts of water before it rises to its flood potential. This is a very important reason for protecting cypress swamps from potential harm: they are the first line of defense when the waters rise.
Adjacency to Conservation Lands
Another significant motivating factor for the acquisition of this property is the adjacency to other conservation lands. The Buddy Boys Property is adjacent to the 206-acre Sixmile Creek Preserve, to which the Buddy Boys Property would add another 64.5 acres of majority cypress swamp. If preserved, the remaining lands in NFLT’s Sixmile Creek PPA (See map, right) could create a corridor of conservation surrounding and thereby protecting Sixmile Creek and its freshwater species for eternity.
Scenic Beauty and Recreation
Explored and recounted by naturalist William Bartram in the late 1700s, the lands surrounding Sixmile Creek are a historical reminder and peaceful remnant of “old Florida.” Among cypress trees and flowering plants that flank the banks and fishermen found quietly casting a line, the river narrows and becomes a step back in time. For the boater and kayaker, this part of the river is a special place to behold. Egrets fly majestically from branch to branch. An occasional otter peers up from the water’s surface. This scenic beauty and quiet refuge is a common value held by humankind, and thus worthy of protection. The Buddy Boys Property is one parcel along the river that contributes to this currently undisturbed refuge.