Branan Field WEA was acquired with funds received
through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Mitigation Park Program. The
primary goal of this program is to compensate for gopher tortoise
habitat lost to development elsewhere. Through the program,
developers opt to provide funds that are used to acquire and manage
other offsite, upland plant communities. The Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission is responsible for the resource
management of the area; activities are directed toward the
restoring and maintaining habitats critical to the long-term
benefit of state and federally listed upland species, particularly
the gopher tortoise, Florida mouse and southeastern kestrel.
Chris Tucker - Enclosure protecting several hatchling
gopher tortoises from predators
After coming into state ownership and management,
the commercial pine stands were thinned to open up dense tree
canopies and stimulate the growth of ground-dwelling plants used
for food by the gopher tortoise. Open canopies also allow the heat
from direct sunlight to assist with tortoise nest incubation.
Regular prescribed burning, using frequent, high intensity growing
season burns, was introduced as a primary management tool. These
burns mimic lightning ignited fires and help control hardwood
growth while promoting wiregrass and longleaf pine seed
germination. Burns also help control hardwood encroachment in
wetter areas dominated by slash pines and palmettos.