The Ocala National Forest is noted for its sand pine scrub ecosystem. The rolling hills contain the largest concentration of sand pine in the world.
Growing on deep, prehistoric sand dunes, the sand pine scrub is home to the threatened Florida scrub-jay, sand skink, and Florida bonamia plant.
Within this sea of sand pine, longleaf pine islands provide a different view with open park-like stands of trees over grassy plains. Wildlife species of interest include the bald eagle, Florida black bear, Florida manatee, gopher tortoise, indigo snake, and red-cockaded woodpecker.
The forest’s porous sands and largely undeveloped character provide an important recharge for the Floridan aquifer. Freshwater springs produce several hundred million gallons of water each day. Crystal clear springs, pothole marshes, and sinkhole lakes provide year-round recreation opportunities and unique aquatic habitats.
Management of this public resource is the most important role of the National Forests in Florida. Learn more about our stewardship of the land below.
Why are fires set intentionally in the Ocala National Forest? It's an important part of managing the land for wildlife and wildflowers. Learn more about our prescribed burn program and how it affects you.
In 1908, when the Ocala National Forest was established, the Forest was comprised mostly of sand pine scrub. This unique ecosystem, referred to as the Big Scrub, is what is left of a chain of islands before the sea retreated 25 million years ago.