Apalachicola River - Natural Communities

The Apalachicola River and its associated streams, marshes, and floodplain forests provide habitat for a variety of sport and commercial fish populations. Apalachicola Bay produces over 90 percent of Florida's oysters and is a major nursery for blue crabs and marine finfishes. Unique and outstanding wildlife habitat, including that of some rare and endangered species, is also found in the area.

Hibiscus
Alan Hallman

Some portions of the area have been heavily disturbed as a result of agriculture and silviculture (tree farming). Cut-over timber plantations in Franklin County that were not reforested have some natural pine regeneration and a shrub layer of titi, myrtle, gallberry, and other native woody species. The old fields south of Howard Creek in Gulf County have been invaded by exotics and native species such as titi, wax myrtle, and gallberry. Apalachicola River WEA is home to several rare plant species.

See  Major Natural Communities.

 

Management

Prescribed burn
Alan Hallman

The upland plant communities of the Apalachicola River WEA were historically pine flatwoods with a much more open and grassy appearance than they have today. Slash pine and evergreen shrubs now dominate, the legacy of intensive timbering, extensive pine plantations, and hydrological alterations. Commercial thinning, hydrologic restoration, and reintroduction of a natural fire regime will be required to restore the natural vegetative communities and to enhance wildlife habitat. Mesic (moist) flatwoods now planted with slash pine will eventually be reforested with longleaf pine.

In cooperation with the Florida Forest Service, the FWC is restoring the forests on selected upland sites. In cooperation with Northwest Florida Water Management District and the Corps of Engineers, FWC is working to re-establish natural water flow. Major hydrologic restoration has already occurred on the Saul Creek, Bloody Bluff, Sand Beach, and Quinn tracts.



FWC Facts:
Whooping cranes mate for life, but they will take a new mate after the loss of the original. The pair will return to use and defend the same nesting and wintering territory year after year.

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