ALACHUA COUNTY, FL - The Phifer Flatwoods Preserve will be officially open to the public on September 20, 2008. Two trails are available for hiking and biking, with more trails to come this fall. The preserve is a 644 acre natural area southeast of Gainesville adjacent to State Road 20 where it intersects with County Road 325.
The protection of Phifer Flatwoods Preserve was made possible by the dedication and quick action of the non-profit Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) and its many friends and supporters. In 2005 the land was put up for auction and nearly acquired by a Louisiana developer. Aware of the critical timing of the pending sale, ACT quickly rallied the support of the local community, receiving loans from more than 50 individuals, foundations, and non-profit groups, and gifts from more than 250 households. This valiant group effort raised nearly $3 million for the initial land purchase. Alachua County purchased Phifer Flatwoods from ACT using Alachua County Forever Bond funds and a Florida Communities Trust Grant, thus protecting the land for future generations.
Sandra Vardaman, Land Conservation Biologist for Alachua County Environmental Protection Department, noted that Phifer Flatwoods is both naturally and culturally diverse. "Phifer Flatwoods is a mosaic of upland and wetland natural communities that is adjacent to over 3 miles of the Gainesville-Hawthorne Rail Trail," said Vardaman. "It's part of over 51,000 acres of conserved land that surrounds the Rail Trail. The preserve is home to a variety of species including Gopher tortoises and pitcher plants. It was also a turpentine production site in the early part of the 20th century."
Access to Phifer Flatwoods is via the Gainesville-Hawthorne Rail Trail. The preserve is a 9 mile bike ride from the Gainesville Rail-Trailhead and a 6 mile bike ride from the Hawthorne Rail-Trailhead. Residents driving to the preserve can take State Road 20, turn south onto County Road 325, and travel one-half mile to County Road 2082. Parking is available at the Phifer Flatwoods Parking Area at the intersection of County Road 2082 and County Road 325. Walk or bike east on the Rail Trail one-half mile to the Marsh Trailhead or one mile to the Swamp Trailhead.
Alachua County will be sending out an additional press release inviting the public to the Phifer Flatwoods Grand Opening Celebration & Vine Cutting, which take place on October 11, 2008.
The preserve will be open daily from sunrise to sunset for hiking and biking on established paths.
For more information or for persons with disabilities who require assistance in accessing the site contact the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department Land Conservation Division 352-264-6800 or visit them online at www.alachuacountyforever.us
Click above to view larger map.