Help plan the future of Tosohatchee WMA 9/25/2013
A 10-year plan for the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area (WMA) will be presented at a Tuesday, Sept. 24 public hearing in Orange County.
People are invited to attend the 7 p.m. public hearing at the Orange County Extension Education Center, 6021 South Conway Road, in Orlando.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff will present the draft land-management plan for FWC-managed portions of the Tosohatchee WMA, and people will be encouraged to comment and ask questions. For more information on the upcoming local public hearing, go to MyFWC.com/Conservation and select “Terrestrial Programs” then “Management Plans.”
The 30,701-acre Tosohatchee WMA encompasses 19 miles of St. Johns River banks, with habitats as diverse as old-growth cypress swamps, freshwater marshes, cabbage palm hammocks and slash pine flatwoods.
People come to this WMA in eastern Orange County to hike, bike or ride horses on 60 miles of trails, including a portion of the Florida National Scenic Trail. They can view a host of bird species such as bald eagle, wood duck, limpkin, snowy egret and purple gallinule. A Tosohatchee bird list is available at MyFWC.com/media/305328/Tosohatchee_birdlist.pdf. The WMA is also a popular place for fishing and hunting.
The area’s cultural history goes back nearly 6,000 years to a time when Paleo-Indians shared the river valley with mastodon, saber-toothed cats and bison. When Spaniards arrived 500 years ago in what they called “La Florida,” the Timucua occupied this river valley region and fished, farmed and hunted here. In the 1700s, naturalist William Bartram explored the St. Johns River, and later in the early 1800s the St. Johns would become one of Florida’s first tourist attractions, as paddle wheelers steered up and down the river, carrying sightseers, hunters and cargo.
The name Tosohatchee apparently is a corruption of “Tootoosahatchee” or Chicken Creek, the Seminole name for a planned meeting site on the west bank of the St. Johns River during the Second Seminole War in 1837.
“Tosohatchee WMA was purchased to ensure the preservation of fish and wildlife resources, other natural and cultural resources, and for fish-and-wildlife-based public outdoor recreation,” said Rebecca Shelton, FWC land conservation biologist. “This draft plan will specify how we intend to do that.”
All lands purchased with public funds must have a management plan that ensures the property will be managed in a manner consistent with the intended purposes of the purchase.
Hunting and fishing regulations are not included in this plan or meeting; those are addressed through a separate public process.
To obtain a copy of the draft land management prospectus for Tosohatchee WMA, call or email Julie Kilgore at 850-487-7063.
For background on management plans and their goals, visit MyFWC.com/Conservation and select “Terrestrial Programs.”