Box-R's tidal marshes, creeks, floodplain swamps,
hammocks and pine uplands are part of a complex ecological system
that includes the Apalachicola and Jackson rivers and Apalachicola
Bay to the south. Box-R's habitats attract diverse wildlife and
help to ensure a supply of clean water for Apalachicola Bay, which
produces over 90 percent of Florida's oysters and is a major
nursery for blue crabs and marine finfishes.
Slash and longleaf pine characterize small areas of
natural pinewoods but the majority of Box-R's uplands were planted
in slash and loblolly pines anywhere from 6 to 34 years ago.
Ditches built to drain wet areas and create drier conditions more
suitable for timber production have altered the natural flow of
water on the property. Extensive marshes border portions of the two
rivers while cypress-hardwood swamps line the smaller creeks.
Box-R is managed for a diversity of wildlife
species through timber management (thinning and reforestation),
prescribed burning and hydrological restoration. Wildlife openings
are maintained and enhanced to attract deer, turkey, rabbits,
quail, dove and snipe. Selective openings are planted with native
or non-invasive agricultural crops to provide wildlife viewing
opportunities, dove hunting, and high quality forage for deer,
turkey, dove and quail. The FWC is restoring the forests on
selected upland sites. Existing slash pine and loblolly pine
plantations are grown out to harvestable sizes, commercially
thinned and converted to longleaf pine where appropriate. The slash
and longleaf pine flatwoods communities are managed with selective
thinning and regular growing season burns to promote an open and
grassy understory, with scattered saw palmettos and gallberry.
Regular burns reduce hardwood competition, enhance pine seed
germination, recycle nutrients and provide a diverse groundcover
community for a variety of wildlife species. The growth of
hardwoods and woody shrubs in existing clearcuts are controlled
through herbicide treatment and prescribed fire and replanted in
longleaf pine or slash pine.