Reclaimed Land Brings Recreation and Conservation to Parks Across Florida
Land once mined for phosphate to help support healthy crops around the world are home to some of Florida’s most breathtaking parks. Located on reclaimed land, the parks welcome visitors from near and far to enjoy the lush green grasses, plentiful trees, wetlands, and wildlife that span as far as the eye can see. The parks also offer recreation, camping, exploration, education facilities and much more.
What is ‘reclaimed land’?
Since 1975, government regulations have required that every acre of land that the phosphate industry mines must be reclaimed back to nature, agriculture, or other productive uses. Prior to mining activities, phosphate companies must demonstrate that post-mining reclamation will result in a net ecological benefit compared with the land before mining.
Reclamation allows us to create large-scale wildlife corridors while reconnecting streams and wetlands as they previously existed.
Hardee Lakes Park
Located in the heart of Hardee County, Hardee Lakes Park, created for public enjoyment by Mosaic, is one of many parks built on previously mined land. The 1,260-acre public park provides residents with access to community buildings, RV campsites, fishing piers, trails, playgrounds and much more. Recently, we funded the addition of a BBQ grill shed which will increase the capacity for outdoor recreation, complete with necessary preparation, storage and sanitization areas. Free of charge to those visiting Hardee Lakes, the shed is a welcome addition, located next to the Mosaic Community Education Center.
“Hardee County is the only county in Florida that is not home to natural lakes. Through Mosaic’s robust land reclamation process, we have added four lakes, over 120,000 trees and over 1,200 acres to the county,” says Heather Nedley, Public Affairs and Community Relations Manager. “Hardee Lakes Park provides habitat, recreation and conservation in one package – reflecting Mosaic’s commitment to both sustainability and reclamation in Florida and to giving back to the community in a meaningful way.”
Just 33 miles away from Hardee Lakes Park sits another local favorite, also located on reclaimed land.
Alafia River State Park
Mountain bikers, hikers, equestrians, and fishers alike can enjoy Alafia River State Park‘s unique topography and offerings, located on 7,700 acres of formally mined land. The reclaimed land is home to over 45 miles of mountainous trails perfect for hiking, biking and horseback riding along with a river for water activities.
Doing our part to support local sustainability is something we care deeply about at Mosaic. While the land was mined and reclaimed by a previous mining company, Mosaic continues to provide support to the park, which is an important part of the Hillsborough community.
Through Friends of Alafia, Mosaic provided funding for a new commercial mower to help with the park’s upkeep. During this long-term partnership, we have also provided grants to purchase a utility vehicle, repave the parking lot, add programming for equestrian opportunities, and in-kind donations of mining conveyor belts that can be used for mountain bike trails.
“Previously, we only had one reliable 60” commercial mower to maintain upwards of 50 acres of grass. Thanks to Mosaic, we now have a 72” mower. Both machines will remain in service for years to come and make maintenance activities much easier,” shares LeRoy Dennison, President, Friends of Alafia, Inc.
Other Florida Parks on Reclaimed Land
Parks on formerly mined land can be found in Polk, Hillsborough, Hardee and Manatee Counties and are unique public assets providing many amenities. Visitors can expect to enjoy fishing, camping, biking, jogging, or educational resources when visiting the parks. Quite possibly the most unique aspect is the abundance of wildlife that can be found on reclaimed land.
Reclamation efforts not only restore the land, but often provide a net ecological benefit compared with the land before mining.