Perry Oldenburg - Habitat and Management

mixed hardwoods
Longleaf pine/Turkey Oak Sandhill


The dominant habitat at Perry Oldenburg is longleaf pine sandhills, which occupies the higher slopes at the park. This habitat is characterized by longleaf pine, turkey oak, wiregrass, ground blueberry, gopher apple and runner oak. The area's most mature hammock is located on the northern rim of Circle Pond.  During wet years, this 9-acre pond supports the growth of buttonbush, St. Johns wort, maidencane, and sawgrass. The pond dries out completely during prolonged drought, which allows slash pine and red maple to become established. Areas that occupy 12 acres or less include the annually mowed powerline right-of-way, and an open area used for poultry production by previous landowners.  Hardwoods began to colonize this area when agricultural activities ceased.


longleaf pine and Turkey Oak Sandhill after burn
Shane Belson
Longleaf pine/Turkey Oak Sandhill After Burn

Perry Oldenburg 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 communities. Three adjacent parcels, purchased between 1990 and 1995, comprise Perry Oldenburg's 380 acres. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is responsible for the resource management of the park; activities are directed toward restoring and maintaining critical habitats to the long-term benefit of state and federally listed upland species, particularly the gopher tortoise, Florida mouse, southeastern kestrel and Sherman's fox squirrel.

Fire historically played a vital role in maintaining the longleaf pine/wiregrass sandhill community at Perry Oldenburg and regular prescribed burning is the primary management tool used at this site. Most burning will be performed with the assistance of the Florida Forest Service from the nearby Withlacoochee State Forest and will consist primarily of growing season burns. Longleaf pine and wiregrass are dependent upon growing season burns for seed germination and establishment. Burns during this season also help control encroaching hardwoods. These regular burns maintain the open canopy and ground cover of herbs and grasses that benefit the Sherman's fox squirrel and the gopher tortoise, gopher frog, Florida mouse and other animals that share the tortoise's burrow. A significant long-term management problem facing Perry Oldenburg is the control of cogongrass, an aggressive exotic plant that occurs within the park and on private land just outside park boundaries. Burning will be used on a limited basis as a pretreatment measure prior to fall and spring season herbicide applications. Pastures on adjoining properties and the powerline right-of-way provide kestrel foraging habitat. Wooden nest box structures have been installed to promote kestrel nesting.

FWC Facts:
The $2.7 billion that people spend to view wildlife in Florida is more than double the value of the state’s annual orange harvest.

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