ATVs and UTVs Prohibited
The use of ATVs and UTVs is prohibited at Highlands Hammock State Park, including Seven Lakes, the East Property and the South Property, per Chapter 62D-2.014, Florida Administrative Code.
Lake June-in-Winter Scrub Preserve State Park is a part of the Lake Wales Ridge, which was an island in ancient times. When the sea receded, the white sand of the shore remained. Plants that thrive here today evolved and adapted to catch and hold rainwater, which quickly percolates through the porous sand. Trees and shrubs have a stunted appearance and thick, leathery leaves. Sand pine, scrub oak and prickly pear cactus grow here.
Also growing in the coarse white sands are rare endemic plants such as scrub plum, scrub bluestem, Britton's bear-grass and other remnants from the days when the ridge was a series of offshore islands. When the early Cracker pioneers settled in Florida, they called these habitats scrubs.
Lake June-in-Winter Scrub Preserve State Park is home to many imperiled plant and animal species, including the Florida scrub-jay. This bright blue, gregarious bird lives in cooperative groups among the white sands and stunted oaks of the scrub forests. As scrub-jays are communal and engage in cooperative breeding, younger jays assist the adult breeding pair with the care of nestlings and act as sentinels alerting the family group to the presence of predators such as hawks, owls and snakes. Adapted to living in oak scrub habitat, this beautiful dusty blue and gray, crestless bird will defend its family territory from others of the same species. Optimal scrub-jay habitat must have low, uniform oak thickets for nesting in proximity to bare, open sandy patches for acorn-caching.
Scrub, pine flatwoods and other communities are fire-dependent ecosystems with natural recurring fire regimens. Historically, many thousands of lightning fires burned vast acreages during the late spring and early summer lightning season, creating a mosaic of burned and unburned areas throughout the Southeastern United States. Prescribed fire, fire which is intentionally applied under conditions selected to achieve specific resource management goals, is vital for keeping Florida's natural areas healthy. Prescribed burning replicates natural fire cycles to maintain healthy forests, restore fire-dependent habitats, and reduce dense undergrowth and heavy fuel loads that build up over time. The potential for catastrophic wildfires is decreased, thus protecting homes in proximity to rural wildlands. Burned lands experience an increase in native wildflowers and improved browse for herbivores. The specialized habitat requirements of some threatened and endangered birds and wildlife species such as the Florida scrub-jay and the gopher tortoise are maintained.
Scrub periodically burns to the ground, allowing the cycle of life to begin anew. Without the renewing effect of fire, this habitat becomes overgrown, and the jays are forced to leave and seek new territories. Sand pine removal, oak thinning and prescribed burns are major resource management activities that have been undertaken for scrub-jay habitat restoration at Lake June.
In the park's higher elevations, rainfall drains downward and then moves laterally, emerging at lower elevations to moisten the ground surface. Here the scrub vegetation ends, replaced by pine flatwoods or bayheads. In contrast to the open, sunny conditions and the extreme heat of scrub, there are several tannic or blackwater creeks and seepage streams flowing through the park's bayhead communities. Bay trees and ferns provide cool shade and lush greenery for hiking. Otters may be observed in the gurgling, spring-fed streams.
The picnic area and open grassy hill provide a scenic view overlooking Lake June-in-Winter, and visitors may walk down to the shoreline. This 3,500-acre, spring-fed freshwater lake provides excellent recreational opportunities.
The land was acquired by the state in 1995.