Platt Branch Wildlife and Environmental Area

photo oak hammock
Oak hammock

Platt Branch lies east of the Fisheating Creek floodplain and at the southern end of the Lake Wales Ridge. The 1,972-acre area is named for Platt Branch, a creek that flows through the site. The area was established through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Mitigation Park Program. Management of the longleaf pine, cutthroat grass, slash pine, and scrub habitats is specifically tailored to benefit protected species such as the gopher tortoise, Florida scrub-jay and red-cockaded woodpecker.

Now the domain of hikers and wildlife watchers, the area still bears witness to previous land uses over the last century. The timber and turpentine industries left their marks here in the 1920s and 1930s. Several old sand roads and small clearings mark the site of a temporary settlement documented from the early 1940s. Cattle once roamed freely across the landscape and later grazed in fenced clearings created for pasture. Today, some of these clearings are being restored with native plants to create scrub-jay habitat or pine flatwoods. A loop trail takes visitors through a mosaic of habitats with ample opportunities to spot wildlife.

 




FWC Facts:
A 2011 survey showed that 49 percent of residents and 47 percent of tourists participate in wildlife-viewing trips in Florida.

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