Title: Florida's Forests
Far from the bustling cities that make Florida one of the nation’s most urban states is an environment that allows for the renewal of both body and soul.
Encompassing nearly one million acres, Florida’s state forests provide visitors with unique back-to-nature experiences. Managed by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’s Division of Forestry, Florida’s more than 30 state forests strike a balance between the environment, resource management and outdoor recreation.
Acting as stewards of these lands, the Division of Forestry protects and maintains the biological diversity of the many ecosystems found in and around the state forests. State Forests such as Blackwater River, Withlacoochee, Jennings, Lake Wales Ridge, Goethe and Pine Log exemplify the many public benefits that result from effective land management.
Multiple-use land management is key to the success of the state forest system, and protecting the natural environment is the cornerstone. Florida’s state forests provide protected habitat for many types of flora and fauna, including endangered or other species of concern such as the red-cockaded woodpecker and gopher tortoise. Safeguarding this natural environment helps ensure the continuance of the state’s distinctive and wondrous wildlife.
Protecting this habitat is accomplished through careful use of sophisticated land-management techniques. Prescribed burning, for instance, enhances the environment by simulating the natural growth cycle of the forest. Pioneered by early Native Americans, this technique not only improves wildlife habitat and forage, it reduces the negative impact of noxious, non-native plant species. It also controls underbrush that, if left unchecked, could fuel devastating wildfires.
The general public has appreciated Florida’s state forests for their abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities. More than 800,000 visitors experience the natural beauty of Florida’s state forests each year. The natural splendor of Florida’s state forests attracts naturalists from around the world who visit to experience the extraordinary environment and varied wildlife.
Visitors can learn from a local expert during guided tours. Birdwatchers flock to the forests in hope of adding to their life’s list of sightings. A wealth of trails allows for nature watching, whether by foot … horseback … even mountain bike.
Adventurers, young and old alike, can roam the forest with only a map and compass.
Whether pitching a tent in a primitive campsite or setting up in a full-facility campground, camping is the perfect outlet for getting away from the hassle of urban life. These are just some of the activities ideally suited for the lush and tranquil setting that Florida’s state forests provide. Many state forests also include archaeological and historical resources that are preserved for the future.
Some of Florida’s most beautiful rivers flow through the state forests. Canoeing down one of these pristine, meandering waterways is yet another way to experience Florida’s state forests. Fishing and boating are also popular water activities, but a cool, refreshing dip is still the favorite way to escape the summer heat. All this is offered within a natural idyllic setting unmatched by any theme park.
The sheer size of Florida’s state forests itself is a marvel, providing not just solitude and enjoyment for visitors, but also renewable resources for society’s use. The state forests contribute greatly to Florida’s economy, serving as the foundation for an eight billion dollar a year industry.
Ongoing restoration efforts help ensure that future generations will benefit from these renewable resources.
Wholesome family recreation …
Wildlife habitat …
Managed renewable resources …
These are just some of the benefits that state forests provide Floridians
Florida’s state forests … striking a balance and enhancing our lives since 1936.