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UF/IFAS DeLuca Preserve

UF/IFAS DeLuca Preserve

Visiting DeLuca Preserve

a graphic map of the deluca preserve

The DeLuca Preserve is a mosaic of multiple habitats for the long-term study and conservation of unique ecosystems through management, research, and education of working landscapes.

The Preserve is located in Osceola County, Florida south of State Road 60 and west of the Florida Turnpike and is approximately 27,000 acres (10,927 ha).

The Preserve is owned by the University of Florida Foundation and is managed for UF by the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ (IFAS) Office of the Dean for Research. Ducks Unlimited maintains a conservation easement on the property comprising DeLuca Preserve. The easement was designed to protect the conservation value of resources while enabling research and educational activities of this working landscape.

Please note: DeLuca Preserve is not open to the general public except for organized tours or through volunteer activities. Please contact Brent Sellers for information about accessing the property.
  • Directions

    General Directions to DeLuca Preserve

    Please note: The Preserve is open to the public through arranged visits, therefore entrance gates require a code for access.

    Entrance Gate Locations

    • Southeast Entrance Gate – 6900 S. Kenansville Road
    1. Approximately 3-1/4 miles south of the SR60 and HWY 441 intersection in Yeehaw Junction.
    2. Mailbox is at the entrance gate on the right (west) side of the road when traveling from the north.
    3. If traveling from the south on HWY 441, the entrance is approximately 3/4 -mile north of the Okeechobee-Osceola County line.
    • SR 60 Grove Entrance Gate – 2650 State Road 60
    1. The main grove entrance on SR 60 is approximately ¾ mile west of the SR60-HWY441 intersection in Yeehaw Junction on the south side of the road.
    2. If you are traveling from the west, the entrance is approximately 7 miles east of Peavine Road (gravel road that travels north off SR60.
    • Other Entrance Gates – Various locations on State Road 60 
  • Policies

    All University of Florida regulations and DeLuca Preserve policies are to be observed while visiting the facility. The policies and procedures of DeLuca Preserve are subject to change without prior notice. The Preserve administrators reserve the right to update any policies and add additional ones at any time. All visitors will be responsible for observing any and all updates to UF and DeLuca Preserve policies. Violation of these policies may result in termination of the project or activity on the Preserve and may affect permission for future use of the facility.

    Fundamental Code of Behavior

    Everyone visiting and working at DeLuca Preserve is expected to abide by an honorable and considerate code of behavior. This means showing respect for others, the natural resources, and the facilities at DeLuca Preserve. Preserve users should remember that the management staff has a responsibility to conserve the flora, fauna, and the other natural resources of DeLuca Preserve. Our goal is to provide a safe, inviting, friendly, and productive environment.

    Problems / Grievance

    Problems or complaints having to do with the Preserve's policies, procedures, actions, or facilities should be brought to the attention of the DeLuca Preserve Liaison. We will work with you to resolve any problems and help make the Preserve a productive environment. This includes all research and teaching issues. Interpersonal conflicts not related to use of the Preserve are best solved among the parties involved.

    General Guidelines

    • Accessing DeLuca Preserve: DeLuca Preserve is not open to the general public except for organized tours or through volunteer activities. Only approved research, teaching, and special use activities may access DeLuca Preserve. The Preserve is available for access to users 24/7 unless otherwise communicated. Depending on the duration needed for access to DeLuca Preserve, an approved project may receive a project code to entrance gates. All visitors must sign in at the check in station located at the white tenant house on HWY 441 (~3-1/4 miles south of SR 60 on right hand side of road) and provide the following information: Date, Name, Time In, Number in party, Location (Management Unit or Area), and reason for visiting. When leaving DeLuca Preserve, users shall indicate   departure time at the check in station and verify that all individuals in their party are accounted for. Users are responsible for the conduct of all individuals associated with their permitted activities.
    • Prescribed fires: When a controlled burn is being conducted at the Preserve, access to the burn area and bordering roads are closed to access. Once a burn has been conducted, the burn area is closed to access for 7 days post fire to let the area settle for safety reasons. The surrounding roads may be utilized. Users of the Preserve will be notified as early as possible for removal of sensitive equipment. Most controlled burn operations occur at the onset of the rainy season (May through July).
    • Domestic animals: Domestic animals (dogs, etc.) are not permitted on the Preserve, unless they are part of an approved research project, are necessary to help a disabled user, or have special permission from Preserve administration. Please notify the managers if you have a special need.
    • Cattle: Cattle located on the Preserve are not UF property.  Please make every effort to not harass cattle in any way.  It is common for cattle to be present on roadways throughout the Preserve, drive slowly and they will move out of the way. Please report any unusual cattle activity.
    • Gates: All exterior gates are to remain locked at all times. If an exterior gate is found unlocked, please lock the gate. Interior gates should be left as found; a closed gate should remain closed and an open gate should remain open.
    • Speed limit: The speed limit throughout the preserve is 15 MPH.
    • Off-road vehicle use: No vehicle may leave designated roads without explicit permission by Preserve managers. To reduce impact to groundcover vegetation and soil erosion, vehicles should turn around at road or firebreak intersections instead of turning around into management units.
    • Hunting: Hunting is prohibited on the Preserve except for hunting lessees. Violation of this policy may result in cancellation of use of DeLuca Preserve and arrest by law enforcement representatives.
    • Study or Activity Locations: Study site and activity locations (such as plots or trapping locations) shall be provided at the beginning of an approved study or activity. Location information shall be in the form GPS coordinates (preferably in UTM coordinate system) plots and study sites. Updated location information will be provided if study sites are moved during the course of the project.
    • Collecting (flora, fauna, genetic material): Collecting shall be defined as removal of a sample (flora, fauna, genetic material, water samples, etc.) from DeLuca Preserve for the purpose of exhibitions, education, or research use. All collecting should be requested and justified in your use application. Please include where the sample collection will be located, collection ID, and a contact name, phone number, and email address. Private collecting is not permitted.
    • Field Marking Material: If you need the use of flagging or marking material for plots or identifying individual features at DeLuca Preserve, please use biodegradable marking material when possible. When picking a marking color/pattern, please check to determine if other research/activity coinciding on the Preserve is using the same color/pattern. Researchers must use unique flagging color/pattern from other research being conducted at the Preserve. If PVC, conduit, or rebar is needed, please include an aluminum tag for each pole with your name and DeLuca Preserve permit # embossed on it. If not clearly identified, staff may remove these poles. All equipment/flagging etc. is to be removed once the project/activity has been completed unless otherwise approved.
      Researchers or educators wishing to mark animals are required to make a list of all markers you plan to use on animals (except very short-lived markers) and provide it to the Associate Director. To use bird bands, you must fulfill the regulation of the existing banding systems. This generally entails custom bands with your initials and a number. Please note that you must receive permission for work with vertebrates, according to your home institution’s regulations (IACUC in the case of U.S. researchers). UF/IFAS personal should submit marking information in your ARC (Animal Research Committee) permit.
    • Radio Telemetry: Researchers planning to use radio telemetry should incorporate information regarding capture techniques, if any anesthesia will be used, recapture efforts, and how the collars will be removed at the end of the study. A list of frequencies to be used needs to be provided in the research application.
    • Long-term Studies: Researchers wishing to establish long-term studies (>5 yrs) should communicate how long the project will run, any potential impacts on the flora and fauna, soil, water, marking methods, any restrictions they may envision for its upkeep and to management practices (fire or other management strategies). All requests to establish a long-term study will be forwarded to REAC for their review and comment.
    • Site Restrictions: DeLuca Preserve administrators reserve the right to restrict certain access to areas of the Preserve for management and/or research reasons. Notifications of such restricted areas will be communicated to all Preserves users. Impacts to ongoing research will be mitigated. If a researcher needs to have an area excluded from access by others, then they should identify and justify this in their research proposal.
    • Exotic Plants or Animals: All requests to use nuisance exotic/invasive plant species and animals will be reviewed by REAC. Researchers requesting to use these types of species for their research at DeLuca Preserve must identify how these species will be used, methods for keeping the species contained and from escaping the study site, how they will be removed at the end of the study, and a post study scouting effort to verify no species has become established. If a nuisance exotic/invasive plant species or animal does escape the study site or is not removed at the end of the study, the researcher will bear all costs required to remove the species from DeLuca Preserve.
    • Introgression of Genes from Introduced Organisms and Plantings: DeLuca Preserve strives to minimize introgression of genetic material from experimental plantings or individuals introduced to the site for research purposes. All requests to bring individual plants or animals onto the Preserve should include a description of the proposed methodology to be employed to minimize genetic introgression. Permission for use of non-local individuals in research may require, among other activities, monitoring and collecting plants, seeds, and fruits to minimize gene flow to plant populations at DeLuca Preserve and removal of experimental plantings at the end of a project.

    Roads and Navigation

    • Only 4x4 vehicles, ATVs, or UTVs should be utilized on the DeLuca Preserve to ensure the user’s ability to travel across the landscape. Only ATVs or UTVs are permitted off the main roads when absolutely necessary.
    • All roads at the DeLuca Preserve have been raised to increase usability; however, some areas will be nearly impassable during certain times of the year, especially in the SW section of the Preserve during the rainy season. There are approximately 75 miles of improved gravel roads and dirt roads that are found at DeLuca Preserve.
    • The posted speed limit throughout the Preserve is 15 MPH.
    • When parking along a road, please pull off to the side so other vehicles may pass.
    • The dirt roads are primarily sand and clay and may be difficult to travel depending on your vehicle and the time of year. If you happen to get your vehicle stuck in a sandy area, please fill in your hole after getting unstuck. If you have any concerns regarding whether your vehicle can travel affectively across Preserve roads, please contact the Preserve staff for options.