Water-Related News

Public meeting Dec. 5th on Babcock Webb WMA management plan

Help plan the future of Babcock-Webb WMA

A 10-year plan for the Fred C. Babcock-Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area (Babcock-Webb WMA) will be presented at a Thursday, Dec. 5, public hearing in Charlotte County.

The public is invited to attend the 7 p.m. public hearing in the Myakka River Room at the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center, 75 Taylor St, in Punta Gorda.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff will present the draft land-management plan for FWC-managed portions of the Babcock-Webb WMA, and people will be encouraged to comment and ask questions. For more information on the upcoming local public hearing, visit http://myfwc.com/conservation/terrestrial/management-plans/.

With its 65,758 acres of wet pine flatwoods interspersed with freshwater marshes, cypress sloughs and wet and dry prairies, Babcock-Webb WMA is one of the few remaining pristine areas of its kind in Florida. Located only 5 miles from Punta Gorda and 20 miles from Fort Myers, the WMA harbors a diversity of wildlife, including endangered species such as the Florida bonneted bat, the largest native bat in the state, and red-cockaded woodpeckers. Also found here are American alligators, whitetail deer, Northern bobwhite quail and Sherman’s fox squirrels. Part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, the area is home to many bird species, including Florida sandhill cranes.

Visitors come for a variety of outdoor activities, including hunting, fishing, hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, wildlife watching and target shooting. They also come to participate in bird dog field trials. Babcock-Webb WMA is named in honor of Fred C. Babcock, who purchased land east of Punta Gorda in 1914 for a hunting preserve, cattle ranch and timber production, and Commissioner Cecil M. Webb of the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, the FWC’s predecessor agency, who served from 1948 to 1953.

“Babcock-Webb WMA was purchased to ensure the preservation of fish and wildlife resources, other natural and cultural resources, and for fish and wildlife-based public outdoor recreation,” said Rebecca Shelton, FWC land conservation biologist. “This draft plan will specify how we intend to do that.”

All lands purchased with public funds must have a management plan that ensures the property will be managed in a manner that is consistent with the intended purposes of the purchase.

Hunting and fishing regulations are not included in this plan or meeting; those are addressed through a separate public process.

To obtain a copy of the draft land management prospectus for Babcock-Webb WMA, email or call Julie Kilgore (850-487-7063).

For background on management plans and their goals, visit http://myfwc.com/conservation/terrestrial/management-plans/