The Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) and collaborating land developers are pressing forward with a destructive plan that would route part of the new Osceola Parkway through the Split Oak Forest Wildlife and Environmental Area in Osceola County. The initial proposal cut through the heart of Split Oak Preserve and ran directly through the middle of valuable scrub habitat, home to several Scrub-Jay families. Property managers argue that in addition to habitat loss, the existence of a highway through the heart of Split Oak would have a dramatic negative impact on the necessary prescribed fires for the preserve.
After strong opposition by Audubon Florida, Orange Audubon Society, Kissimmee Valley Audubon Society, and others, CFX invited conservation groups into the planning process to help find a better route that minimizes impacts to rare jays and their dwindling habitat. Audubon has led discussions during the last several weeks with progress made toward shifting the highway far away from the heart of the Preserve and resident Scrub-Jays. With the help of a strong grassroots network and dedicated Jay Watchers, Audubon will continue fighting for one of the last remaining sanctuaries for Scrub-Jays in Central Florida.