Silver Harbor Ranch Purchase
The state has completed the purchase of 2347 acres of the Silver Harbor Ranch located on the northwest part of the lake. We believe the state paid $6.5 million for this property and closed on it in January 2002..
Kevin Main, Biological Scientist III, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Lake Wales Ridge Wildlife and Environmental Area , will be managing the property. His responsibilities include managing the property (burns, exotic species removal, etc.) and preparing for and running any hunts on the property.
Wildlife seen on the property include fox squirrels, scrub jays, gopher tortoises, alligators, bald eagles, wild turkeys, dove, quail, feral hogs, bear and a small number of deer. But no surveys as yet to determine wildlife populations.
Another feature of the property is the endangered and protected plants that are growing. They include: Wedge-leaf button snake root (the largest population), Scrub blazing star, Highlands scrub St. John's-wort, Hairy jointweed, Small's jointweed, and Papery whitlow-wort. There are probably others, but we have not done a complete survey of the site.
According to Kevin, "We will continue prescribed burning in much the same way that the Royce's have managed fire on the property for the last 70 years. I hope to start burning within the next couple months out there. The groves will be put out for care taking initially, we will at least have one dove field and probably a limited quota turkey hunt. We eventually will try to restore some of the pastures and groves to a more native state, but that will go slowly. We will also check into restoring some of the hydrology of the area by filling some of the ditches. That will also be a slow and closely watched process. Some of those ditches were installed prior to 1940! I would like to create a couple hiking trails on the site, maybe using some of the old roads".
The public can access the property anyplace they can climb a fence or gate. We will eventually install a couple walk-thrus along Virginia Avenue. There may be some limited vehicle access back to the office eventually, but that has yet to be decided. Kevin would love to hear from people with suggestions on places to install walk-thrus. You can reach Kevin with your suggestions at 863-699-3730 or firstname.lastname@example.org .