The Split Oak Forest Wildlife & Environmental Area is home to threatened gopher tortoises, scrub jays, sandhill cranes, Sherman's fox squirrels, gopher frogs, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, indigo snakes, bald eagles, and feral hogs. The forest is owned by Osceola and Orange counties, purchased to mitigate the impacts of other other wetland developments, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has spent more than 20 years maintaining it. Untouched in centuries by Central Florida's rampant development, only hiking and permitted horseback riding have been allowed, while hunting, camping and biking are prohibited. That's all about to change.
A proposal, billed as an effort to ease traffic on Orlando's congested roadways, would connect the Osceola Parkway toll road from State Road 417 with a nine-mile extension that cuts right through the Split Oak Forest. Read more about the future of Split Oak in the Jan. 15, 2020 print issue of Orlando Weekly.