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Florida Land Management

Oak, Pine, Cattle, Wetlands, River



Site: 15 acres near Osteen, Florida. USDA hardiness zone 9b. Sandy soil with mostly oak, pine, and wetlands running into St. Johns River. Project coordinated with adjacent 40-acre property.

The swamp and the shoreline along the St. Johns River are important, protected ecological sites that were left untouched. They included several very large, mature pines in raised areas and large cypress trees at the water.


Oak Stand: 3-4 acres. Mostly white oak group. Several hickory trees at reproduction age. Improved stand by thinning trees and removing invasive species.


Pine and Cattle: 10 acres. Kept in the upland area away from the river. House, oak stand, and wetlands positioned between the cattle and river to mitigate impact on waterways. Maintained irregular-spaced trees for open canopy foraging areas for and a closed canopy shelter area. Removed species undesirable for pasture including saw palmetto, brambles, thinning tree saplings, and an occasional vine. Contractors dug a small 30-foot pond. Fencing separated pasture areas from each other and from  the house, wetland, and oak stand. Introduced cattle from the neighboring property. The herd centered around a female, Betsy, and subsequently her calf and replacement heifer, Chocolate.


Low Impact Methods: Restricted mostly to hand tools (axe, pickaxe, loppers, machete, brush clearing axe, and brush clearing hook). Technique for removing small trees included evaluating the site for hazards, determining felling direction and retreat, pickaxing to clear soil at edge of crown, axing several thick roots, and then tipping the tree. A chainsaw was rarely used, for large-diameter trees and bucking large amounts of wood. This approach required less equipment, was more safe and quiet, and had a lower ecological impact.


Other Methods: Some conventional practices included spraying small amounts of kerosene on palmetto crowns to kill them, burning large amounts of brush that could have been used to build soil, and occasionally maintaining larger grass areas with tractor mowing in the absence of cattle.


United States Department of Agriculture (2012). 2012 USDA Hardiness Zone Map.

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