Widely spaced pines characterize the flatwoods
Habitats provide the food, water, shelter and space that animals need to thrive and reproduce. Pine flatwoods, wet prairies and freshwater marshes encompass over 90 percent of the Jones/Hungryland WEA. The area was historically a mix of pine flatwoods interspersed with sloughs draining east toward the Loxahatchee River and the Atlantic Ocean. In many places sloughs have been channelized and diked so that what remains today are isolated cypress strands, seasonal ponds and wet prairies. Some areas of former Everglades marsh are now wet prairie. Although relatively pristine compared with pine flatwoods in other places in south Florida, the pine flatwoods on Jones/Hungryland Wildlife and Environmental Area deteriorated as a result of fire suppression prior to state ownership.
Fire is a critical tool for managing the native habitats on Jones/Hungryland. Regular prescribed burning reduces heavy fuel loads, lessens the chance of catastrophic wildfires and enhances natural communities for the benefit of wildlife. Managers also remove invasive nonnative plants such as air potato, melaleuca, Caesar’s weed, cogon grass, Australian pine, Brazilian pepper and Old World climbing fern. Hydrological restoration on the area includes the installation of low-water crossings and culverts.
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.