Lake Talquin State Forest
Lake Talquin State Forest is located just west of Tallahassee, Florida and is composed of ten main tracts of land, along with several smaller tracts. Most of the forest adjoins the Ochlockonee River and Lake Talquin, the body of water that gives the forest its name.
Counties: Gadsden, Leon, Liberty
Since 1977, Lake Talquin State Forest has been managed by the Florida Forest Service using the multiple-use concept, which balances environmental, recreational and resource use needs. Emphasis is given to reforestation, ecosystem restoration, and outdoor recreation.
Located within the state forest, Bear Creek Educational Forest offers free guided programs where students will learn from activities correlated to Florida’s Sunshine State Standards.
Lake Talquin State Forest is comprised of a variety of forest cover types. The major type is pine-hardwood, covering over 50% of the forest. Tree species found in the forest include: sweetgum, water oak, longleaf pine, slash pine, loblolly pine, laurel oak, live oak, mockernut hickory, red maple, sweetbay, swamp tupelo, bald cypress, dogwood and turkey oak.
PHOTO: Little Blue Heron.
The presence of the Ochlockonee River and Lake Talquin give this forest the distinction of having two Outstanding Florida Waters. Excellent examples of the slope and ravine forest communities are located on the west side of the Talquin Tract and throughout the Fort Braden and Bear Creek Tracts. Other examples of the natural communities found on the forest include flatwoods, rolling uplands, swamps, sandhills and hardwood forest.
Animal life is plentiful as there are many varieties of wildlife that make their home on the forest. Species found living here include the red-shouldered hawk, bobcat, coyote, osprey, white-tailed deer, fox squirrel, turkey, and mourning dove. Bald eagles, currently listed as a threatened species can be viewed soaring above the treetops. The gopher tortoise, which is a species of special concern also lives on the forest.
A wide variety of recreational opportunities await visitors to Lake Talquin State Forest. Hiking, camping, horseback riding, biking, picnicking, birding and nature study can be enjoyed using existing service roads, old road beds and established trails.
Freshwater fishing can be pursued from the shore or by boat and several public boat ramps are located on the lake. Canoes, kayaks and power boats are allowed. Lake Talquin State Forest is part of the Big Bend Scenic Byway which is a designated Florida Scenic Highway.
Managing the Forest
Prior to state ownership, much of this land’s timber was removed in the mid-1970s under a long-term timber contract. Since taking over management, the Florida Forest Service has managed for reforestation, ecosystem restoration, and outdoor recreation.
Timber management practices on Lake Talquin State Forest are important in the restoration and maintenance of forest ecosystems and provide a variety of socioeconomic benefits to Floridians. Harvesting activities follow the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services guide to Silviculture Best Management Practices (BMPs).
PHOTO: Longleaf Pine Trees.
Trees are planted in order to restore natural communities while leaving small areas treeless as wildlife openings. Whenever large clearings are performed, it is to replant to the most suitable tree specie for the site or to remove diseased or dying trees.
Wildlife habitat management is of crucial importance on Lake Talquin State Forest and is an important consideration whenever other management decisions are made. Prescribed burning is an important management tool and is used on portions of the forest in a 3 to 5 year rotation. This mimics natural fires, keeping the ecosystems healthy and benefiting wildlife by encouraging the growth of wildlife food-producing plants.