photo of recreation area at Belmore State Forest
Stephen Montgomery

Managed in cooperation with the
Florida Forest Service

The Belmore Wildlife Management Area (WMA) occupies 8,737 acres of the Ates Creek Tract in the Belmore State Forest. The WMA is located in south-central Clay County, approximately 16 miles from Green Cove Springs. Ates Creek, a tributary of the South Fork of Black Creek, flows through the forest for six miles. The variety of natural communities here provides public recreation opportunities and wildlife habitat while performing essential roles in the protection of water quality, groundwater recharge, flood control and aquatic habitat.

The majority of the uplands are pine plantation, managed for commercial timbering prior to state purchase. Other habitats include bay swamps, slope and bottomland forests, sandhill, dome swamp and depression marsh. The Florida Forest Service manages the area using a combination of timber harvesting, invasive species eradication and reforestation. Regular controlled burns improve conditions for vegetation and wildlife. Long term goals include restoring sand pine plantations to longleaf-pine sandhill communities. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission administers hunting related activities and provides technical advice on the management of wildlife populations. In addition to a variety of resident and migratory songbirds, wildlife such as the Florida black bear, gopher tortoise, Sherman's fox squirrel, alligator, and eastern indigo snake have been observed in the forest.

Recreational opportunities include hunting, fishing, horseback riding, hiking, bicycling and wildlife viewing. The network of unpaved roads is ideal for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. From September to March, quota hunts take place on limited days. They include seasons for archery, muzzleloading gun, family hunt, general gun and spring turkey. The small game season in December and January does not require a quota permit. Quota permits are required for migratory bird seasons if hunting occurs during any quota period. Fishing and frogging are allowed year-round. Check the list below for WMA regulations. The forest is open for public use year-round, from 1.5 hours before sunrise to 1.5 hours after sunset.

Rules Regarding Dogs

  • For purposes other than hunting, dogs are allowed, but must be kept under physical restraint at all times. Dogs are prohibited in areas posted as "Closed to Public Access" by FWC administrative action. No person shall allow any dog to pursue or molest any wildlife during any period in which the taking of wildlife by the use of dogs is prohibited.
  • Hunting dogs may be taken onto the WMA after 8 a.m. the day before the opening of a season and shall be removed by 6 p.m. one day after the end of the season. Hunting with dogs is prohibited, except bird dogs may be used during the small game season and waterfowl retrievers may be used during the special September duck season and the duck, geese and coot season. Dogs are prohibited in areas posted as "Closed to Public Access" by FWC administrative action. No person shall allow any dog to pursue or molest any wildlife during any period in which the taking of wildlife by the use of dogs is prohibited. Dogs on leashes may be used for trailing wounded game.

For more information: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (386) 758-0525 MyFWC.com/recreation; Florida Forest Service (904) 291-5530, FL-DOF.com/recreation.




FWC Facts:
Male cardinals are extremely territorial in the spring, often attacking other birds or even their own reflection in windows. The attacks can go on for hours.

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