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

Containerized longleaf pine seedlings are removed from a growing tray. They are then counted and placed in a wax coated cardboard shipping box.

Longleaf Pine Restoration Helps Environment And Economy

Longleaf pine is being reintroduced into the United States ecosystem. If the restoration plan is successful, this type of pine would benefit the environment and the economy.


Bert the bluff oak resides outside the Nuclear Science Center on the University of Florida campus. Plans to construct the Innovation Nexus Building in that area for the College of Engineering have gone through several variations in order to save him and four other heritage trees in the area.

For Trees Like Bert, Special Titles Do Not Always Guarantee Special Protections

The Florida Champion Tree Register recognizes the largest tree in the state of each noninvasive species. It’s the next step of recognition up from heritage tree status, like that of Bert, the bluff oak that has affected plans for the Innovation Nexus Building at UF.


Noaa Hurr Forecast 2015

NOAA: Inactive Season Likely, Officials Aren’t Swayed

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released a seasonal hurricane forecast. WUFT Meteorologist Marithza Calderon says it’s no surprise that they say we could be in for another inactive season.


Gulf Shores

Once Vilified, BP Now Getting Credit For Gulf Tourism Boom

The once vilified BP is now being commended for its efforts in helping to attract visitors back to the Gulf Coast. The oil company is spending more than $230 million in its efforts.


fruit drop

Citrus Greening Continues To Plague Florida Orange Groves

Described as one of the worst diseases to ever hit Florida orange groves, citrus greening is costing the state’s general fund $5.75 million. If the disease is not curbed it could be detrimental to Florida’s agriculture and economy.


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