Through the Florida Wild Turkey Cost-Share Program, 385 acres of wildlife habitat were improved on the Little Big Econ State Forest, a 10,279-acre segment of public land in Seminole County, Florida.
The Florida Wild Turkey Cost-Share Program is a collaborative initiative between the NWTF, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Forest Service that provides resources, funds and leveraging ability to complete wild turkey habitat enhancement projects on public lands throughout Florida.
Roller chopping, a wildlife management technique that minces dense brush and small diameter trees, was used to reduce thick saw palmetto and shrubs, primarily scrub oaks. This allows for more effective controlled burns in the future and reduces the risk of wildfire.
“The roller chopping and subsequent controlled burning will create early successional habitat that includes more grasses and forbs in the understory, providing better wild turkey habitat,” explained David Nicholson, NWTF district biologist. “This project will not only improve habitat for wild turkeys, but it will also improve habitat for bobwhite quail, gopher tortoise, Southeastern American kestrel and other wildlife found in Florida.
“The Florida Wild Turkey Cost-Share Program was initiated in 1996 and since has improved significant amounts of habitat on public lands open to turkey hunting,” Nicholson said. “During this year alone, the program includes 38 habitat projects on 29 WMAs and three focal areas. The program’s total value is more than $1.9 million, and it is expected to enhance more than100,000 acres of turkey habitat. Additionally, this program allows the NWTF to leverage funds in working with 12 different land management agencies that also contribute funds and/or labor to the projects.”