Anclote River Ranch
The Anclote River Ranch embraces much of the Anclote River headwaters and features a diverse terrain comprised of sand pine ridges, turkey oak uplands, flatwoods, cypress heads, riverine hammocks and swamp. The property was purchased in 1937 and consolidated into 16,000 contiguous acres. Jay B. Starkey Jr., son of the original owner, assumed ownership of the cattle operation in 1966.
The Southwest Water Management District purchased 8,000 acres of pristine forest and wetlands, which were used for the Starkey Well Field and a county park. In 1996, the Florida Department of Transportation purchased 3,500 acres for mitigation purposes related to construction of the Suncoast Parkway. A small portion of the ranch has been divested for real estate development. As a result, the ranch now covers 3,500 acres, with about 600 head of cattle.
In addition to being known as a producer of high-quality feeder calves, the Anclote River Ranch has a long reputation for its environmental stewardship practices. The ranch has been a leader in reforestation of long leaf pine and increasing the diversity of natural plant populations. Wildlife management programs provide for enhanced wildlife food supply, cover, roosting sites, population and health control, and state biological surveys.
Water impoundment and stream flow restrictions have conserved water resources and improved pasture productivity. Two 60-acre lakes were created and now provide major water impoundments, as well as being stocked with grass carp and game fish. The impoundments also are used as a nursery area for wetland plant propagation. The use of such practices as rotational grazing, controlled burning, and elimination of over-grazing has increased the overall carrying capacity of the land.
Starkey also takes an active role in promoting stewardship by conducting ranch tours for school children, business leaders and environmental organizations, and he is a speaker at numerous public forums.