St Johns – Flagler lose two popular hunting areas


400-TWELVE-MILE-SWAMP-WMAAt the end of the current hunting season, Historic City News has learned that Rayonier Inc., and co-owners Plum Creek Timber Co. Inc. and Conservation Forestry LLC, will remove Twelve Mile Swamp and Relay state wildlife management areas from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s recreational use permit program.

Public Information Coordinator Joy M. Hill reported to Historic City News that, this hunting season, each area provided permit holders 30 days of archery, nine days of muzzle-loading gun, 58 days of general gun, 63 days of small game, two days of youth turkey and 37 days of spring turkey hunting. In addition, Twelve Mile Swamp had a 61-day trapping season; trapping was prohibited on Relay.

“We will certainly miss having these areas open to public hunting,” said Jen Williams, the Commission’s public-hunting-area biologist for the Northeast Region. “But, we understand that the private landowners need to do what’s best for their business.”

Twelve Mile Swamp is located on 9,460 acres in St Johns County — about 10 miles north of St Augustine, north of Nine Mile Road between US-1 and I-95. Only 125 permits were available each year for the Twelve Swamp state wildlife management area. It has been at least two years since the available permits have sold out.

As many as 300 permits were available each year for Relay state wildlife management area; located on 19,682 acres in Flagler County off SR-11.

Permit holders pay a fee, set by the property owner and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, to allow public hunting on the private land during established hunting dates. The properties typically offered a hunting opportunity that more closely resembled a private hunting club lease – fewer hunters and higher fees than on publicly owned lands.

Hunting is currently allowed on approximately 1,035,000 acres of public land under the jurisdiction of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in the Northeast Region.