Located at 14601 US Highway 301 Wimauma, FL 33598, this preserve provides no public access and is in the process of being restored to natural pine flatwoods, scrub, and sand hill.
Size: 1,620 acres. Although the entire tract was purchased by Hillsborough County in 1996, this preserve is actually composed of two separately managed parcels, both of which are managed as
mitigation areas. The western half is a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Gopher Tortoise Mitigation Park.
The State reimbursed the Countyâ€™s acquisition costs with funds generated by permitting fees paid by developers. This is one of many such sites located throughout Florida, under a program designed to ensure the long term survival of gopher tortoises and other native wildlife species that are dependent on the high, dry scrub and sandhill habitats that are rapidly disappearing due to development.
The site contains scrubby flatwoods, sand pine scrub, xeric
oak hammock, pine flatwoods, cypress swamp wetlands, and forested wetlands within the floodplain of Bullfrog Creek.
The eastern half of the site is managed by Hillsborough County, and has been designated as a mitigation bank site through the upland habitat protection provisions of the Countyâ€™s Land Development Code.
Under the ordinance, developers may purchase â€ścreditsâ€ť in order to obtain permits to clear land designated as â€śSignificant Wildlife Habitatâ€ť,Â in situations where on site preservation is considered to be unfeasible. The funds generated by the mitigation bank are being used to restore native habitats on the siteâ€™s uplands, which were used for improved pasture and row crop farming under the previous ownership. Approximately 50% of the County owned area contains
wetlands associated with Bullfrog Creek and its tributaries.
Location and Access
The site is located on the west side of U.S. Highway 301, approximately three miles south of Big Bend Road, and three miles north of Sun City Center. The site is not currently open to the public because of the ongoing habitat restoration effort in the County owned portion. Eventually, public access will be available at an entrance gate next to the Forestry fire tower at the north end of the
A long access road (~ 1 mile) will lead to the Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Park, where a small parking area and interpretive kiosk mark the start of a hiking trail.
In addition to the large population of gopher tortoises, the western half of the site contains excel-
lent examples of both upland and wetland native habitats. The scrubby flatwoods and xeric oak
hammock section contains a population of the endangered Florida golden aster (Chrysopsis floridana). The entire preserve is large enough to offer a refuge for wide ranging species including
Eastern indigo snake, bobcat, grey fox, Shermanâ€™s fox squirrel, and wild turkey. An active Southern bald eagle nest is located on the county owned portion, in a stand of pine trees on the north
side of the creek. The wetlands within the floodplain of Bullfrog Creek are extensive and provide important flood control, water quality and habitat benefits for the watershed. Restoration of upland habitat here will help offset the loss of natural habitat elsewhere in the County.
Although currently not open to the public, in the future, this site will offer low to moderate recreational opportunities, consisting of hiking, picnicking, birdwatching and nature study, primarily on
the western half of the property.
(Source: Hillsborough County)
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