Tag Archives: Blackwater River State Forest

Consider large mammals in conservation and restoration of forests

The following is from “Florida Black Bear (Ursus americanus floridanus) Management Plan of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission which was approved on June 27, 2012.  [Those wishing to read this interesting and well written report can download this report.  Florida black bear management plan, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Tallahassee, Florida, 215 p.)

“The use of fire by land managers to promote restoration and maintenance of fire climax communities provides well-established benefits.   The frequent applications of fire creates a plant community structure and successional sere that is beneficial to an array of wildlife.  However, bears and many other species benefit from habitat patches with prolonged fire intervals.  Several studies have indicated the importance of saw palmetto and oak mast for food, … and the use of dense understory including palmetto as concealing cover for natal dens….  However, fire can be fatal to oaks … and reduce fruiting of palmettos when burned more frequently than every five years….  Consequently, bears in Florida use areas that have at least five years between burns more frequently than they do areas with shorter burn cycles. … Land management compatible with bear needs would include a diverse mosaic of forest communities where some forest compartments are burned less frequently than every five years.  Conversely, the frequent application of fire could help reduce the abundance of bears in areas where that is a management objective. [my emphasis](pages 53-54, lines 1708-1724)

“… Present efforts to enhance red-cockaded woodpecker populations, for example, involve controlled burns and longleaf pine restoration; however, frequent, large-scale winter burning may reduce the diversity and abundance of foods available to bears and kill cubs in dens.  A coordinated management effort will provide much needed habitat for bears, scrub-jays, snakes and other wildlife species that will require alternate while burns are underway.  Therefore, coordinating land-management activities that span the landscape, address the seasonal conditions, and the varying requirements of individual species is important for establishing successful habitat conservation efforts for bears and other wildlife species.” (page 54, lines 1730-1739)

“Management goals and desired conditions for other wildlife species, particularly listed species, may not always result in prime bear habitat.  However, many species with seemingly divergent needs can be accommodated if a variety of land management regimes are used to provide diverse forest communities at the landscape level.” (page 54, lines 1740-1744.)

“The Florida black bear thrives in habitats that provide an annual supply of seasonablly available foods, secluded areas for denning, and some degree of protection from humans. Harlow (1961) described optimal bear habitat in Florida as ‘a mixture of flatwoods, swamps, scrub oak ridges, bayheads and hammock habitats, thoroughly interspered.'” (page 8, lines 717-721).

“…approximately 80 percent of the natural bear foods in Florida are plant material. … Although 66 different plant species have been identified in bear diets, the fruit and fiber of saw palmetto are important throughout Florida and throughout the year. … Insects make up around 15 percent of Florida black bear diets, usually in the form of colonial insects (e.g. ants, termites) and beetles. … The remaining five percent of a typical bear diet in Florida is animal matter, which includes medium-sized mammals like raccoons, oposssums, and armadillos as well as small livestock and white-tailed deer. …” (pages 10-11, lines 784-792.)


Our forests — a panacea for the soul

I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.   Research shows that there is an increase of stress, created by the continuous stimuli from electronic communications and multimedia advertisements, which are encountered throughout the day and night.  Many mental health problems are exacerbated by our increased alienation from natural environments.   Recent research also shows that time spent in natural/undeveloped environments can reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression as well as improve quality of life.

We need more than just photographs or virtual on-line experiences of wildlife and natural habitats.  The availability of healthy wildlife, wildlife habitats, fisheries, beaches, wetlands, and uplands provide the opportunity to integrate our lives with the natural environment which improves our mental health.

Tara Kirby, LMHC


Expressions of these forests: comments sent to GRASI

See:  http://www.grasieis.leidoseemg.com

Hit documents.

There are 3 reports cited on top, hit the one in the middle “…Appendices B-1…”

Comments submitted at the GRASI scoping hearings in August, 2013, e-mailed or mailed later are found on sections B113-B179, B182, B 192-93, B 204-209.   A summary on subjects spoke to are found  in B14-B28.

Eglin Air Force Base GRASI document available


Just posted on the Federal register:   http://www.//http.grasieis.leidoseemg.com

Hearings on this document which describes how the military plans to use these two state forests for military maneuvers and communications overlay over the forests:

June 3, Tuesday, Carrabelle City Hall 6:00PM

June 4, Wednesday, Apalachicola, Franklin County Commission, Main Court Room, 6:00 PM

June 5, Thursday, Santa Rosa Bagdad Recreation Facility, 6:00 PM.

All comments must be received by June 23.  See document for above for form and comment instructions.

For more information see: http://www.//http:letterstograsi-flofficials.com.



Military Exercises in BRSF Will Require Amendment and Future Approval

The Acquisition and Restoration Council (ARC)  of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)  which approves all management plans and amendments to these plans for state lands entrusted to the Division of Public Lands,  on December 13, 2013, approved the Blackwater River State Forest (BRSF)  10 year management plan with one proviso.  They qualified the paragraph which had to do with military expansion in that forest to require any military exercises, such as that mentioned in the GRASI proposal, would require an amendment to the plan and require ARC approval before the exercises can commence.  I will get the exact wording next week.

There was a very good show of people representing 1) North Florida paddlers (about 14 people with 4 who testified) and a legislative staff aide, 2) The Native Plant Society, 3) Frances Weston Audubon Society (8 with 3 who testified) and State Audubon Conservation Direction Julie Wraithmell, 4) Several other speakers opposed or questioning the military exercises.  The council delayed hearing the BRSF plan till 11 am to enable people from Pensacola to leave for Tallahassee at a reasonable time, particularly since many also attended the “town meeting” the night before in Milton, jointly sponsored by Eglin AFB and Florida Forestry.

The testimony of John Veasey, an Air Force veteran of 24 years and a frequent user of BWSF resulted in a question to the Director of State Forests the next day by Peter Frederick, council member and U of Florida Professor, asking why there were military in the state forest when he was under the impression that this had not been authorized.   Jim Karels, Director of State Forests, replied that under a forestry use permit when Eglin AFB request use for several days, they were usually issued a permit.

At the Apalachicola  “town hall”  meeting that night  John Brown, who has been the main point man for forestry, was asked whether the Tate’s Hell Forestry Plan which does not currently have the military inclusion clause in it would have to be amended before military training is allowed.   He answered in the affirmative.   When asked whether there would be adequate notification of a hearing and adequate time for people to read the amendment, he equivocated.

Forestry claims that the military are users, too, and is issuing permits under an ordinary user request.  Most of the people at both the Milton and the Apalachicola town meetings held on December 11 and 12, 2013, would question that interpretation of “resource-based recreation” user.

Eglin AFB Operations Plan for Military Training on Blackwater River State Forest and Tate’s Hell State Forest

I have excerpted the Annual Operations Plan (and agreement between Eglin AFB and the Florida Department of Agriculture) in the sister blog http://www.letterstograsi-flofficials.com.  It is too long for me to retype it here.

You can also view the 14 page plan at http://www.pnj.com/interactive/article/99999999/NEWS12/131017014/Timeline-Eglin-s-proposed-military-training-Blackwater-River-State-Forest?nclick_check=1

Operational Plan for Eglin AFB in Tate’s Hell and Blackwater River State Forests

See:   http://www.pnj.com/interactive/article/99999999/NEWS12/131017014/Timeline-Eglin-s-proposed-military-training-Blackwater-River-State-Forest?nclick_check=1

Panel 4,  when clicked, will give you the operational plan.

Acquisitions and Restoration Council Hearing – December 12

The Acquisitions and Restoration Council (ARC), Division of Public Lands, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), is tasked with approving all management plans on lands acquired under various restoration and conservation purchases.    They will be meeting to consider the Blackwater River State Forest 10 Year Resource Management Plan on December 12-13, 2013.   On December 12, the public will be allowed to speak on the sections of the 10 year management plan which concerns them.  The management plan can be viewed at:


When:  December 12, 2013    9:00AM-

Where:  Marjory Stoneman Douglas Bldg, (DEP), 3900 Commonwealth Blvd., Conf Rm A, (I-10 and Capital Circle NW).

Concerned citizens are urged to attend, not only to speak, but, if not, to support the speakers.

The following are instructions printed by ARC for presentations:

“MSD [Marjory Stoneman Douglas building] is equipped with computer electronia that accommodate Power Point presentations, carousel slide projection, VCR and DVD projection, and a document reader (similar to an overhead projector) able to project photographs, maps, transparencies and other documents up to 14 x 17 inches.   Smaller maps and documents that fit on the document reader are preferred over poster-size maps and documents.

“Power Point presentations should be on CD or a USB drive in a ‘pps’ Power Poit Show format.

“Room lighting (darkening) is fair — low contrast photographs, maps and documents may not show as well, so you may need to supplement your presentation with paper handouts.

“The room is equipped with microphones, and all meetings/hearings are recorded.  Please speak into the microphones for proper recording of your testimony and so the Council members and audience can hear.

“Speakers are generally limited to 5-10 minutes each and may be questioned by the Council.   For large groups, please coordinate speakers and avoid duplicating information presented.   Depending on the number of speakers and available time, speakers may be asked to shorten presentations to 3 minutes or less — be prepared.”

Listed species – Blackwater River State Forest


Gopher Tortoise

Blackwater River State Forest is home to many species on the federally endangered and threatened list.

  • 1 Fish
  • 5  Amphibians
  • 8 Reptiles
  • 5 Birds
  • 3 Mammals
  • 54 Invertebrates
  • 19 Plants and Lichens

The Nature Conservancy says of Blackwater River State Park:

“Considered by many as Florida’s premier state forest, Blackwater River State Forest — 209,571 acres and counting — is the bedrock of a conservation complex that hosts an amazing 300 species of birds and 2,500 species of plants.  One of the most biologically rich areas in the US, the forest is part of a vital nature corridor that gently rolls from Conecuh National Forest along the Florida-Alabama line to the Gulf of Mexico.”

“The state forest is a significant piece of the largest, continuous longleaf pine/wiregrass forest complex in the world. Once blanketing the entire southeastern United States, only 3 percent of that vast forest survives today.

For more:  see http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates.