Alachua County welcomes citizens to visit Buck Bay Flatwoods Preserve, the most recent Alachua County nature preserve to open for public recreational use. Alachua County Commission Chair Marihelen Wheeler welcomed attendees at the ribbon-cutting event, with Assistant County Manager Gina Peebles, Environmental Protection Department Director Steve Hofstetter, and Interim General Manager of Gainesville Regional Utilities Tony Cunningham.
Buck Bay Flatwoods Preserve is 637 acres and was purchased in two acquisitions with funds from the citizen-supported Wild Spaces and Public Places surtax. The original 464-acre tract was purchased in 2013 through the Alachua County Forever Program. The preserve was expanded in 2019 with the purchase of an additional 173 acres after voters re-authorized the Wild Spaces and Public Places surtax in 2016. The Preserve now protects 637 acres, nine distinct natural communities, and 4,000 ft of Hatchet Creek. Imperiled plants and animals can be found within the preserve, including hooded pitcher plants, spoonleaf sundews, gopher tortoises, and Southern fox squirrels.
The preserve is critically important to protecting water resources in the area. The entire footprint of the Preserve is within the Primary and Secondary Protection Zones of the Murphree Wellfield, GRU’s source of drinking water for residents. This preserve was purchased to protect, preserve and enhance the unique natural and cultural resources found on the property; protect water resources; and provide an enjoyable and educational passive recreational experience.
The main trailhead and parking area are located at 6502 North County Road 225 (N.E. 39th Street, or Racetrack Road), about one mile north of the intersection with N.E. 53rd Ave. The preserve offers visitors almost three miles of trails for hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing. Dogs on leashes are allowed, provided their owners pick up after them. Trails are marked, and maps of the shorter 0.7-mile Dome Swamp trail and the longer 2.5-mile Lakeview Trail are available at the trailhead. Trails are open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., from October through March, and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., from April through September, 365 days a year.
For more information, contact Land Conservation and Management Program Manager Andi Christman at 352-264-6803 or firstname.lastname@example.org