Rural Land

Road Eyed In Florida Conservation Area

The US Forest Service, along with the Boyd Hill. Florida Conservatioon
TFP File Photo

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission next week is expected to discuss a proposed project that would lead to a highway extension through part of the Split Oak Forest Wildlife and Environmental Area in Osceola County.

Commissioners will be asked Tuesday about how to proceed with plans for the Central Florida Expressway Authority’s Osceola Parkway Extension.

Split Oak Forest is a 1,689-acre conservation area in Orange and Osceola counties and provides habitat for such things as gopher tortoises, according to the commission.

It abuts other public and privately owned conservation lands and two lakes. The commission has managed the area since 1994 through an agreement with the counties, which had acquired the land.

The highway extension would go across 1.3 miles of Split Oak Forest, directly affecting 60 acres and indirectly affecting 100 acres, according to a presentation about the proposal.

Melissa Tucker, the commission’s director of Habitat and Species Conservation, said in a memo that staff members have been working on alternatives to minimize the effects.

That could include the counties donating conservation land adjacent to Split Oak Forest in exchange for conservation easements needed for the road.

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