The Longleaf pine ecosystem once encompassed 90 million acres and spread from Texas to the Carolinas. Despite being reduced to fewer than 3 million acres, the remaining lands still contain some of the most diverse plant and animal communities in the world. The Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) is working with conservation partners and concerned citizens to preserve and restore the remaining pieces of this landscape.
Thanks to the success of our Citizen Science Project to Map Rare Plant Species, we were able to share GIS data with our conservation partner, Putnam Land Conservancy (PLC). Working together and engaging the assistance of scientists, students and concerned citizens, we have identified an undeveloped area of sandhill that if protected, will preserve important wildlife habitat and a natural corridor between publically-protected conservation lands. The project area is home to numerous rare plant and animal species including Clasping Warea (Warea amplexifolia), a critically endangered plant species, the Florida Sand Skink (Plestiodon reynoldsi), Florida Black Bear (Ursus americanus floridanus), Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus Polyphemus), and Sherman’s Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger shermani).
Above left: Jim Buckner shows off Clasping Warea plants at a parcel preserved and managed by Putnam Land Conservancy. Above right: Clasping Warea flowers and a Green Lynx spider (photo courtesy of Bob Simons).