Raiford to Osceola Greenway
Union and Baker Counties

by Joe Guthrie

The Raiford-Osceola Greenway Florida Forever Project is a vital piece of the Ocala to Osceola Greenway, which connects two of the largest blocks of conservation land left in Florida. The 67,000 + acre Raiford-Osceola project is a lynchpin to the entire O2O corridor system. It abuts Osceola National Forest to the southeast and extends east to the Camp Blanding-Raiford Greenway project, spanning a distance of 18 miles. This is the final landscape connection for a young male black bear that might travel north from Ocala National Forest or Camp Blanding Joint Training Center in search of a new home range. In biologist Jeremy Dixon’s genetic sampling of the bear population throughout the region, multiple bears with Ocala genes were detected on the Raiford to Osceola project, confirming that a functional corridor exists through the property. Dixon’s research also indicated that Osceola bears disperse south onto the property.

Soft light and color enhance our view over this lake along the Raiford Osceola Greenway, provided by Critical Linkages Photographer Daniel Ewert.

Although the Raiford Osceola Greenway is a relatively small area of land, Daniel says it is full of “lakes, ponds, and lush forest that appeared as though they would support a bounty of wildlife.”
– Daniel Ewert

Read more at “A View From the Other Side of the Lens” here.

There is much work to be done to restore much of the site. Silvicultural lands constitute a large portion of the property, including pine plantation and clearcuts. But there are high value habitats in abundance as well, fostering some important ecological actors. Floodplain forests and baygalls border the streams that drain from the site. Four blackwater streams from three major river basins – the St. Mary’s, St. Johns, and the Santa Fe – originate in the project area. As of today, none of this project is protected. Current efforts are working with the landowners towards a less-than-fee agreement. This would place conservation protection over the site and establish management guidelines, which would facilitate some restoration to native habitat in some areas of the property.