Tiger Creek Preserve is a place of mystery and contrasts. It sits on the eastern edge of the Lake Wales Ridge, one of Florida’s “ancient islands.” Separated from the mainland long ago by a shallow sea, the Ridge is peninsular Florida’s oldest and highest landmass.
Fast forward to the present day, this ancient separation is the reason why the preserve has one of the highest concentrations of threatened and endangered plants and animals in the country. Some exist nowhere else on Earth.
Named after the pristine blackwater stream that forms its spine, the preserve contains hardwood swamps, hammocks, scrubby flatwoods, pine flatwoods, sandhill and longleaf pine/wiregrass habitat. It’s a land that must be burned in order to survive, and one where some animals literally swim through ancient white sands.
Why TNC Selected this Site
Tiger Creek Preserve is a critical link in a network of preserves designed to protect what is left of the Lakes Wales Ridge ecosystem. The oldest physical feature of peninsular Florida, the Ridge is a national hotspot of biological diversity and Tiger Creek Preserve is home to fascinating species. The preserve’s sandy soil also serves a critical role in water recharge.
Tiger Creek is home to two high-quality, seepage blackwater streams including Patrick Creek. A seepage stream gets its water from the surrounding uplands; the blackwater comes from the leaching of tannins from falling vegetation. Only two or three such streams with an intact hardwood floodplain exist in Florida.
How we Preserve the Site
TNC has protected almost the entire course of Tiger Creek. We carefully maintain and improve habitat for the preserve’s many rare species, especially with prescribed burns and invasive species removal. Through species monitoring, TNC provides critical feedback to land managers all along the Ridge.
You can learn to live safely in Florida’s flammable landscape at Tiger Creek Center, which provides a demonstration of “Firewise” construction and landscaping practices.