Silver Springs Forest Conservation Area

About this property

The St. Johns River Water Management District partnered with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Conservation Trust for Florida (CTF) to purchase this conservation land from Rayonier Inc. in 2015. The property provides a buffer where forests capture rainwater to recharge the aquifer and augment the flow of nearby Silver Springs. The purchase also protects the headwaters of Half Mile Creek and an unnamed tributary that flow into the Silver and Ocklawaha rivers, which are designated as Outstanding Florida Waters.

The tract includes 378 acres of wetlands along these two creeks.

This property also provides water resource benefits by reducing nitrate loading into springs and rivers, allowing for hydrologic restoration that will result in water quality improvement, and creating opportunities for water storage. Silver Springs Forest links Indian Lake State Forest, Silver Springs State Park, the Cross Florida Greenway and district-managed lands to the Ocala National Forest. Natural communities on the property range from flatwoods to hydric hammock and bottomland forest. Most of the uplands on Silver Springs Forest Conservation Area are currently in pine plantations.

A portion of the funding used to acquire this property came from the Forest Legacy Program, a joint federal and state government initiative with the goal of promoting sustainable forestry practices, and protecting natural, cultural and recreational resources. The Conservation Trust for Florida, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit land trust, raised additional funds for the purchase of the property via contributions from charitable foundations and individuals who supported the project.

One of the special highlights of this property is its wide and long trail system that is popular with equestrian users. The creeks and swamps teem with wildlife. The hydrologic restoration efforts are a visible example of one of the district’s core missions to improve water quality.

Wildlife viewing

Please respect Florida’s wildlife and use caution while visiting district lands. These are wild animals. For your safety, do not approach or feed any wild animal. Wildlife commonly seen on the property include Florida black bear, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, raccoon and bobcat. Birding can be quite rewarding, particularly in the bottomland forests during fall and spring migration.

Recreational activities
  1. Hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, limited hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and nature study.

For details and to get driving directions from your location, see the Google Maps link on this page.