Fort White 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 minimize the effects of new development on gopher tortoise populations. Developers may provide funds that are used for the acquisition and management of other offsite, upland communities. The FWC is responsible for all aspects of management on Fort White and the primary goal is to promote habitat conditions critical to sustaining gopher tortoise, Sherman's fox squirrel and other listed upland species.

Pine Flatwoods
Shane Belson

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists have thinned pines to open up dense tree canopies and stimulate the growth of ground-dwelling plants used for food by the gopher tortoise. Fire exclusion by previous landowners allowed oaks and other hardwoods to become established, creating unfavorable conditions for gopher tortoises and fox squirrels. Herbicide treatment and selective mechanical removal are used to control this hardwood encroachment, but the primary management tool is prescribed fire, using frequent, high intensity growing season burns. These burns mimic lightning ignited fires and help control hardwood growth while promoting wiregrass and longleaf pine seed germination. The resulting open, grassy understory provides excellent wildlife habitat and scenic expanses of fall wildflowers.

FWC Facts:
The oystercatcher is one of the largest and heaviest of Florida's shorebirds. It is striking in appearance: dark brown, black and white, with a bright red bill.

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