Alligator Lake Management Area
At A Glance…
- 55 Acres
- Located near Safety Harbor
- Supports flatwoods, hammocks and freshwater marshes
The Alligator Lake Management Area is near the cities of Clearwater and Safety Harbor, adjacent to Old Tampa Bay. The area has experienced dramatic changes over the years, including the flooding of Alligator Creek to form Alligator Lake. With the addition of a weir near the mouth of the creek, this system changed from a bayou regulated by the tide to a freshwater lake. The area to the north was historically used for citrus farming.
Residential and commercial development has dominated the area since the 1970s. Dredge material from the lake was used as fill for the construction of condominiums to the south. Part of the property was acquired by the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners in 1960, with additional parcels added in 1993. This natural area, which is closed to the public, is managed by Parks & Conservation Resources.
A weir controls the groundwater flow and maintains the lake in this management area, which is within the Alligator Creek Drainage Basin. A stormwater conveyance system consisting of a sump and linear ditch is also found in the northern area. Soils consist of fine sands frequently flooded in low-lying areas but rarely flooded in areas with deeper sands. The terrain slopes gently toward the lake. Elevation ranges from 5 feet to 12 feet above sea level.
Upland natural communities include hammocks with live oak, laurel oak, American beautyberry, and a variety of ferns and vines as well as flatwoods with longleaf pine, slash pine, saw palmetto and gallberry. Other portions consist of disturbed areas dominated by exotic species such as Brazilian pepper, primrose-willow, air potato and climbing hempvine. Bird rookeries are on the two islands. These support a variety of nesting species, including anhingas, herons and egrets. Gopher tortoises are found in portions of the upland communities. A county-maintained house is on-site, and the resident contributes to local management activities.
Since assuming management of this area, the County has concentrated on controlling exotic species with chemical and mechanical treatments. As with all small, natural areas surrounded by development, non-natives are an ongoing challenge. County officials hope that, as non-native vegetation is thinned and removed, controlled burning can be used as a management strategy.
A major restoration project is planned for the Alligator Lake Management Area. The project, which will be done in cooperation with the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Surface Water Improvement and Management program, will include the restoration and creation of freshwater wetlands and enhancement of associated upland communities. The project will result in improved habitat for wildlife including nesting birds The wetlands will improve the quality of water entering Alligator Lake and ultimately Old Tampa Bay by providing the opportunity for debris capture, sediment settling and nutrient uptake.
While The Alligator Lake Management Area has special significance to local residents and provides economic and environmental benefits to its neighbors, this natural space provides valuable services to all residents and visitors to the region.
By enhancing native biodiversity, it supports countless organisms ranging from microbes to mammals. For example, a wide variety of birds feed, loaf and nest within this management area. This area also makes important contributions to the region’s natural water flow by improving the quality of surface water before it enters Old Tampa Bay and by promoting the recharge of groundwater.
For additional information:
Parks & Conservation Resources
12520 Ulmerton Road
Largo, FL 33774
Phone: (727) 582-2100
Fax: (727) 582-2550