Designated Species Protection

A large gopher tortoise.
plant, wiregrass,
Wiregrass gentian

Imperiled species benefit most from proper management of their natural communities. At times, however, additional management measures are needed because of the poor condition of some communities or because of contributing circumstances such as flooding or storm damage.

Protective measures taken for animal species such as the red-cockaded woodpecker range from habitat maintenance and improvement to protection from disturbance, primarily during the nesting season. Monitoring of these birds continues as a tool to gauge the condition of the clan.

Protection of gopher tortoises in the form of habitat restoration is ongoing. Other designated species whose existence and habitats are being monitored are flatwoods salamanders, gulf sturgeon and manatees.

One plant species being monitored is the wiregrass gentian, a small, rare perennial plant found in moist to wet flatwoods. It is an endemic species, restricted in distribution to just nine counties in the Florida Panhandle. 

Prescribed fire is one of the techniques used for proper restoration of plant species. Ochlockonee River State Park has benefited from decades of ecological burning and provides an excellent example of longleaf pine flatwoods management within the Florida Park Service.