Highlands Ranch Mitigation Bank
Highlands Ranch Mitigation Bank Location
Highlands Ranch Mitigation Bank is located in Clay County, Florida within Sections 9, 10, 15, and 16 of Township 5 South, Range 23 East. Adjacent conservation and public lands include Jennings State Forest to the east and Camp Blanding Military Reservation to the south. Although the acquisition and implementation of these greenways have not been completed, HRMB lies at the confluence of the proposed Camp Blanding/Osceola Greenway and the proposed North Florida Timberlands and Watershed Reserve. These greenways are currently listed as desirable parcels for acquisition through the Florida Forever program, which is implemented by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), Division of State Lands. The acquisition of the Florida Forever parcels is intended to conserve natural resources, provide habitat to a number of listed species, and establish protected corridors between previously acquired public lands.
Prior to becoming a mitigation bank, Highlands Ranch Mitigation Bank, which consists of approximately 1,575.5 acres, was utilized as an industrial pine plantation. The site had been subjected to typical pine plantation management activities, including removal and suppression of native vegetation, application of herbicides and fertilizers, installation of bedding and furrows, construction of trail roads and ditches, and fire suppression. The drier (xeric) portions of the site have been planted with longleaf pine while the mesic and hydric pine plantation areas have been planted with slash pine. Timber stands vary in age from 10 to 25 years and planted pines within portions of the property have been recently harvested.
Community types present on the site include approximately 991.1 acres of mesic and xeric pine plantation, which will be restored to native mesic flatwoods and sandhill communities, 223.9 acres of hydric pine plantation, which will be restored to native mixed forested wetlands/hammock communities, 328.1 acres of isolated and contiguous wetlands that will be preserved and enhanced as part of the mitigation plan, and 32.4 acres of trail roads, and structure.
Most of the on-site wetlands are associated with two named creek systems, Boggy Branch Creek and the Tiger Branch Creek, which are oriented in an east-west direction on the property. Boggy Branch Creek is located within the northern portion of the property while Tiger Branch Creek is located in the southern portion of the property. Both of these creek systems flow offsite to the east into the North Fork of Black Creek, which flows northward ultimately reaching the St. Johns River at a location north of Green Cove Springs. The remainder of the on-site wetlands are primarily isolated or contiguous depressional systems comprised of bay swamps and mixed forested wetlands/hammocks.
The Mitigation Service Area (MSA) is the area in which the mitigation bank could reasonably be expected to offset adverse impacts. An MSA may be larger, smaller, or equal to the bank’s regional watershed. The MSA for Highlands Ranch Mitigation Bank is Basin 4, Northern St. Johns River and Northern Coastal, which is the basin in which HRMB is physically located. HRMB is available to offset freshwater wetland impacts associated with projects within the MSA.
For more information regarding wetlands banking, visit the St. John’s River Water Management District and Jacksonville District Office of U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.