Managing Lands to Protect Water and Natural Resources

Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park has been home to the Red Hills International Horse Trials since the trials began in 1998. The Park, which is owned and managed cooperatively by the Northwest Florida Water Management District and the City of Tallahassee, offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities while serving an important role protecting the water and natural resources of the area.

The District purchased its more than 500 acres of land within Phipps Park in 1992 to protect and preserve Lake Jackson. Each year, the District works with the City, Leon County and Red Hills to make sure the event is held in a manner that is protective of the park’s wildlife and natural resources.

Throughout the year, visitors to the park may notice other land management activities as the District continues to work to restore natural habitat along the lakeshore and throughout Phipps Park by using land management tools such as prescribed burns, pine timber thinning harvests and planting native trees and grasses.

Prescribed burning enhances environmental quality of the land by restoring and maintaining natural communities, reducing chances of destructive wildfires, perpetuating fire-adapted plants and animals, cycling nutrients and controlling tree diseases.

Timber Harvesting/Thinning improves habitat by removing diseased and deformed trees, opening the forest floor to sunlight, promoting plant diversity and providing room for trees and beneficial understory vegetation to grow.
Planting native species such as longleaf pine trees and wiregrass improves wildlife habitat for animal and insect species, and helps restore the land to a more natural state.

Phipps Park, like all District lands, is open to the public for resource-based recreation. The Park offers more than 10 miles of multiuse trails and seven miles of hiking trails, offering wildlife lovers glimpses of bluebirds, rare butterflies, fox squirrels, whitetail deer, turkeys and gopher tortoises (a threatened species), all of which are protected in the park.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Park, its wildlife and the District’s management activities, join District land managers for a guided, interpretative wagon tour—an opportunity available only during the Red Hills Horse Trials. Please meet the guides at 11:00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. Sunday at the Bus Drop Off. Weather permitting, the approximately 60-minute tour will take participants through the various habitats of the Park and feature more information on land management activities underway to protect and restore Lake Jackson and its surrounding natural resources for future generations.