WUFT News

Newnans Lake Cypress Preserve Will Be First Park With On-Site Caretaker

By on October 7th, 2013
Kevin Ratkus, Alachua County’s Environmental Protection Department's environmental specialist, inspects an area of the 23-acre plot of land that would be overlooked and maintained by a county-contracted caretaker.

Jaime Sloane / WUFT News

Kevin Ratkus, Alachua County’s Environmental Protection Department's environmental specialist, inspects an area of the 23-acre plot of land that would be overlooked and maintained by a county-contracted caretaker.

Alachua County is seeking applicants for a unique new position.

The Newnans Lake Cypress Preserve will soon receive a makeover from a county-contracted caretaker, making it the first county site to offer an opportunity for hunting in exchange for care-taking services.

The Board of County Commissioners is seeking applicants to fill a part-time caretaker position on the 23-acre plot of land nearly six miles east of Gainesville. The caretaker will provide maintenance and security services on the preserve over a five-year contract in exchange for limited hunting opportunities on the land, according to Kevin Ratkus, environmental specialist with the county’s Environmental Protection Department.

“Our goal is to forge our management efforts on the site that saves money for the county while simultaneously providing an opportunity to hunt for a community member,” Ratkus said.

The care-taking opportunity follows the county commission’s January passage of  the Alachua County Forever Hunting Business Plan which approved recreational hunting on some properties acquired through land purchases and conservation programs.

The caretaker’s responsibilities include performing site inspections, cleaning and maintaining the property, removing trash from the entrance and installing boundary “no trespassing” signs.

The plot of land consists of multiple diverse habitats such as a floodplain swamp, a black water stream, an upland hardwood forest and a bottomland forest. Ratkus noted that although the plot is quite small, it has a variety of wildlife because it’s connected to the cypress floodplain which surrounds the nearly 7,000-acre kidney-shaped Newnans Lake.

According to the Board of County Commissioners’ Request for Proposals, the selected applicant will be permitted to hunt animals including deer, turkeys, gray squirrels and raccoons within the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s limits.

“Hunting is necessary in a lot of cases to keep wildlife populations at a healthy level,” said Tony Young, a media relations coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “It’s a management tool. Without hunting, lots of animals would outgrow their habitats.”

Because only one local hunter applied for the position before the proposal’s initial Sept. 25 deadline, the county has extended the application cutoff to Oct. 8, according to Alachua County Purchasing Division employee Matt Stevens.

Stevens said interested parties are required to attend a site visit at the preserve on Oct. 8 at 8:30 a.m. in order to complete the application process.

Ratkus explained that the county is seeking applicants who display good productivity and communication skills as well as someone who will hold up his or her side of the agreement.

He attributes the position’s limited applicant pool to the site’s relatively small acreage and southeastern location in the county.

“Proximity to where they (the hunters) live is important,” he said. “They have to be in tune with that region so it’s easy to get there if we need help or if they just need to check on things. Part of the help here is security, having another set of eyes on the site that we don’t have to be worried with.”


This entry was posted in Environment and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Environment

Gores Landing Wildlife Management area is a popular place for turkey hunters to visit during the turkey season in March. Photo courtesy of Greg Workman.

Flooding Disrupts Hunting During Spring Turkey Season At Gores Landing

From March 16-29, a large portion of McLemore Road on Gores Landing WMA is closed due to recent rainfall and flooding conditions. Unfortunately for hunters, the closure of the road in this typical turkey habitat overlaps with the spring turkey hunting season, from March 21-29.


A Florida Forest Service wild land firefighter conducts a prescribed burn to reduce wildfire risks in the Okeechobee district.

Intentional Fires Stimulate Environmental Growth In Alachua County

In efforts to promote a healthy forest ecosystem, burners at the Welaka State Forest and Etoniah Creek State Forest have been busy creating prescribed burns. The planned fires help to reduce potential fuel for unplanned forest fires and cycle nutrients back into the forest.


burmesefeaturedimage

Workshop Sparks Debate on Dangers of Burmese Pythons

Florida wildlife officials have boosted their efforts against Burmese pythons by inviting the public to join the fight, but some researchers and breeders disagree on the severity of the python problem.


Small lopsided fruit from greening-infected citrus tree. Photo courtesy of UF/IFAS.

New Funds Help UF/IFAS Fight Citrus Greening In Central Florida

University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences was awarded about $13.4 million to help fund four research projects aimed at finding a solution to citrus greening.


nonnativefishphoto1

FWC Hosts First Statewide Nonnative Fish Catch

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission hosts the first statewide nonnative fish catch. The contest was created to raise awareness and help reduce the growing population of invasive fish species in Florida’s waters.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments