The next 10 years of the Moody Branch could very well be shaped by you.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is holding a public meeting at the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners chambers March 14 to present a land management plan draft, and the public is encouraged to comment and ask questions.
Moody Branch is a stretch of 960 acres in East Manatee with a variety of land types from scrub to sandhill to flatwoods. Owned by the county but managed by FWC, it sits in the Little Manatee River watershed and is a strategic habitat conservation area for the gopher tortoise, Florida burrowing owl, Florida scrub jay and short-tailed hawk. Around 50 bird species, 120 native plant species and more than a dozen species of reptiles and amphibians can be found in the area.
Estimated cost for managing the area in the first year is $337,516 for things like controlling exotic species or performing prescribed burns, and over 10 years that cost is expected to go up to $2.4 million.
The area is used for hiking and wildlife viewing, but creating revenue from the area is up for discussion in the FWC management prospectus. Staff estimates that anywhere between $4.4 million and $5.3 million of revenue and 77 to 93 jobs could be generated for Florida and its southwest region, yet it all depends on what future uses for the area will be approved.
At the meeting, staff will discuss goals and strategies for Moody Branch and present a draft of the optimal conservation planning boundary.
Hunting and fishing regulations will be addressed in a separate meeting.
If you go
What: Public comment for the draft of the 10-year management plan of Moody Branch Wildlife and Environmental Area
Where: Manatee County Board of County Commissioners chambers, 1112 Manatee Ave. W.
When: Tuesday, March 14 at 7 p.m.