Majestic pines tower over palmetto and wiregrass in the fire-dependent pine flatwoods.
Habitats provide the food, water, shelter and space animals need to thrive and reproduce. Within Joe Budd WMA is a wide diversity of forest community types. Most exemplary are a stand of old-growth longleaf pine on the Budd tract and slope forests along Little River. Throughout most of the area, the land slopes down to creeks, rivers, or lakes. The diversity of forests on Joe Budd provides varied food for deer and other wildlife. A number of beautiful rare plants occur here.
Much of the upland acreage, probably a longleaf pine-wiregrass community at one time, was timbered by previous owners and farmed or reforested with fast-growing slash pines.
Slow-burning prescribed fires keep habitats healthy.
The management philosophy at Joe Budd is that maximum diversity results in more wildlife. In the past, natural fires, elevation changes, and hydrologic differences precluded the establishment of dense stands of any single community type, resulting in habitat diversity. This changed when previous landowners planted large expanses of fast-growing slash pine. Today, biologists are re-establishing some of the original natural plant communities through groundcover restoration. First, slash pine planted by previous owners is harvested once it has matured to marketable size. The land is then reforested with longleaf pine and other native groundcovers. Regular prescribed burns maintain these fire-dependent habitats. Some open areas that resulted from logging and agricultural activity by previous land owners are maintained as mowed openings and planted food plots to benefit wildlife.
In addition to the management work described here, biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rely on a wide range of techniques to ensure that natural areas throughout the state stay healthy for wildlife and inviting to visitors.