Management of NATL's Hammock Ecosystem: 1994 to Date

Unlike the Upland Pine Ecosystem and the Old-Field Plots, NATL's Hammock Ecosystem requires few interventions. Invasive exotic plants are the most demanding problems, with the most extensive being coral ardisia and the most scary being skunk vine. Attempts to control and eradicate these and other NATL invasives are described elsewhere.

Major Disturbances

In the spring of 2001, an outbreak of southern pine beetles killed more than 50 mature loblolly pines in NATL. To stop the spread of the beetles, about 40 infested trees were commercially removed from the public-area portion of NATL's hammock. Not only did the hammock lose these pines, but the logging operation trashed portions of the understory and scarred some non-target, mature trees. The opening of the canopy produced a surge in the growth of vines and understory trees, greatly increasing the difficulty of keeping trails and gridlines open.

Early and late in September 2004, strong winds from hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, combined with water-logged soils, felled numerous large trees throughout NATL but especially in the southern portion of the hammock ecosystem. The five largest were a water oak (33 inches DBH), a swamp chestnut oak (31 in.), a laurel oak (26) and two pignut hickories (25 and 21). In 100 years will massive loblollies mark the spots where these trees fell and opened the canopy?

Other Noteworthy Events

September 1994
Natural Area Advisory Committee (NAAC) adopts land-use plan that was in the 1993 proposal for a "Campus Natural Area and Outdoor Teaching Laboratory," approved by UF's Land Use and Facilities Planning Committee in May 1994.

The Student Geomatics Association surveys a grid system for NATL with markers placed at 50m intervals.

January 1997
A professional photographer makes a grid-based photographic record of NATL's vegetation by taking pictures to the north, east, south, and west at each grid point.

IFAS erects a field fence along NATL's south border to mark the boundary and to deter the entry of vagrants walking in from Archer Road. Unfortunantly the alignment of the fence strayed several feet north of the surveyed line. This led to a dispute with the owner of the Insurance World property that was settled by UF granting the owner the right to use the disputed area for 40 years in return for agreeing to the accuracy of UF's survey of the line. [The agreement was recorded by the Alachua County Clerk of the Court as Instrument #1825718, 9 pgs, in Bk 2431, pg 2997.]

Personnel in the Soil and Water Science Department, led by Dr. Mary E. Collins, complete a grid-based survey of NATL soils.

In January 2003, University administrators propose donating a 90ft swath along the south border of NATL for construction of a four-lane extension of SW 24th Avenue from 34th Street to Archer Road. The swath includes a significant portion of the most mature hammock in NATL (survey of trees). The proposal is withdrawn in May 2004 (history of proposal).

The 2005 revision of UF's Master Plan adds 8 acres to NATL's hammock ecosystem. Five acres are in NATL-east (formerly Surge Area Wetland), an 11-acre addition to NATL, and 3 acres are transferred from the Surge Area to what becomes NATL-west (2000 aerial photo showing boundaries).

March 2007
The Hammock Nature Trail opens. This is the last of three self-guided nature trails in the upland ecosystems of NATL's public area. Each has an introductory kiosk.

November 2007
A 6-ft-high hurricane fence is completed along most of the south border of NATL. Because the field fence installed in 1997 strayed north of the surveyed line, the proposed path of the hurricane fence (6 inches north of the surveyed line) was disputed by the owner of the Classic Car Wash property. The dispute was settled in late July by UF granting the owner the right to use the disputed area for 40 years in return for agreeing to the accuracy of UF's survey of the line. The owner of the Archer Woods Apartments property allowed the new fence to be placed as UF proposed, but he specified that his consent "does not constitute a property line agreement and in no way establishes a property line."

Pre-1994 pine trees in the hammock ecosystems of NATL-west and NATL-east measured and mapped.

February 2010
Plan to eradicate coral ardisia from NATL's hammocks conceived and begun.

Hardwood trees in NATL-east's hammock ecosystem measured and mapped.