Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mountain-Style Canoe Stream Can Be Found Right Here

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mountain-Style Canoe Stream Can Be Found Right Here

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Buehn

To canoe down a clear flowing stream that riffles and tumbles over rocks under a canopy of trees, you might think of heading to Georgia or North Carolina, but we have a stream like that right here in Clay County.

The North Fork of Black Creek is a real gem, and within the boundaries of Jennings State Forest there are four canoe landings along the creek providing good access to the public.

Jennings comprises almost 24,000 acres north and west of Middleburg, including a portion of land in Duval County south of Cecil Field.

The Jennings Forest Liaison Panel, a group of volunteer citizens who meet twice a year with forest officials, recently canoed Black Creek following the semi-annual gathering.

Launching at an area known as Knight's Landing, five canoes floated roughly a mile to Indian Ford, the most developed landing in the forest. The group negotiated short stretches of fast water, and in places had to cross logs and exposed limestone rock.

Along the way bream and bass beds were visible in the clear water, as well as turtles and crayfish. Wild turkey and gopher tortoise were seen in the upland areas.

The outing was overseen by Frank Burley, Jennings' Forestry supervisor, who balances public recreation, timber and wildlife management and forest conservation and restoration in the forest.

One more thing - when called, Burley and his team go out and fight wildfires.

More often, though, the forest issues are things like thinning out fast-growing turkey oaks to help natural plant communities, like longleaf pine, re-establish, or improving camping opportunities.

Burley is planning on opening a new campground by the end of September. "There are 10 sites," he said, "primitive sites, tents only, but you will be able to drive up."

He also notes recent upgrades at Indian Ford canoe landing, which include a parking area and improved launch area. …

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