The endangered Whooping Crane has been spotted on Kanapaha Prairie. Photo by Larry Korhnak. View more of his images.
A Haven For Birds
A key wintering ground for Sandhill cranes, Kanapaha also hosts thousands of migratory birds each year. Bald eagles, wood storks, tricolored and little blue herons, white ibis, snowy egret, bobwhite quail, American kestrel, wintering sparrows and even the endangered Whooping Crane, have been spotted on the prairie.
Kanapaha Prairie, near Gainesville in Alachua County, is part of north-central Florida’s vast system of wet prairies. As a wet prairie, Kanapaha benefits both Florida’s residents and wildlife: it not only sustains a diversity of birds and other animals, but also drains into Pierson’s Sink, which discharges directly into the aquifer, Florida’s major source of drinking water.
An ecological wonder and beautiful backyard to the local community, each year Sandhill and Whooping cranes migrate to the prairie’s 700-plus acres. The prairie is also home to fox, deer, alligators, snakes, an estimated 135 resident bird species and more. Most of the prairie is open pasture or freshwater marsh, with temperate hammocks providing dense shade in some stretches.
Helping The Community Reach Their Conservation Goal
In 2003, with potential development on the horizon, two neighbors reached out to the Fund as well as local agencies for assistance with the conservation of Kanapaha. These residents energized their community, raisede funds and campaigned for the prairie’s protection. A team of public and private partners including the Fund, private landowners, foundations, local land trusts, and county, state and federal government leaders joined to protect Kanapaha.
In 2004, at the request of Alachua County, the Fund purchased 685 acres of Kanapaha, partly with donations from prairie neighbors. In 2008, with support from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, we sold a conservation easement on the land to the local land trust, Alachua Conservation Trust.
By protecting Kanapaha, we help ensure a healthy future for both Florida’s communities and wildlife. What’s more, by securing a conservation easement on the property, we were able to replenish our revolving fund, deploying the same dollars in new conservation efforts, for maximum impact. Special thanks to the Brunckhorst Foundation and The Milton and Tamar Maltz Family Foundation for their support of our Florida revolving fund, which was used in this acquisition.