Welcome to Friends of Split Oak Forest

We are a nonprofit dedicated to the integrity and health of Split Oak Forest, a wilderness park near Lake Nona in Central Florida.

Urgent Call To Action

Make your voice heard by emailing county commissioners, FWC, FTC, and CFX. Express your concerns and urge them to prioritize the protection of Split Oak Forest.

Please personalize your message.

Osceola County residents

  • Describe how you feel ignored by your board of county commissioners – Despite years of public comment in opposition by the Friends of Split Oak (and you personally if you did speak up or contact your county commissioner), they still approved the road through Split Oak and have sent this application to the Florida Communities Trust.

Orange County residents

  • Did you vote for the Split Oak Charter Amendment? Say so. Did you volunteer to wave signs, place signs, send emails, and do social media outreach? Say so.
  • Are you proud that Orange County voters took a stand to protect Split Oak Forest as it was promised and intended? Say something to that effect.

General points

  • State how long you have been visiting Split Oak, when you became aware of the plan to harm it, and (if you remember) where and how many meetings you have spoken at.
  • State what you value about Split Oak – what do you do when you are there? How would a roadway impact that?

Your information

This information is included for the local representatives and decision makers to verify your information.

Who Are We?

Friends of Split Oak Forest is a grassroots organization of people who care about Split Oak Forest. We came together to ensure a proposed toll road did not cross our forest.

Split Oak Forest is known by many names, most currently Split Oak Forest Wildlife and Environmental Area. It is 1700 acres of wilderness on the shores of Lake Hart and not far from Lake Nona and Narcoossee.

Why This Forest Matters

Split Oak Forest, encompassing 1,689 acres of regionally significant wildlife habitat in Central Florida, is a testament to dedicated conservation efforts and ecological significance. This area, managed as a Wildlife and Environmental Area by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), represents a vital ecological corridor connecting Moss Park and Isle of Pine Preserve, forming part of a 3,000-acre-plus conservation network.

Ecological Significance

Diverse Habitats

Split Oak hosts a rich variety of habitats, crucial for sustaining a wide range of plant and animal species. This diversity is maintained through prescribed fires and careful management of invasive species.

Species Protection and Mitigation Bank

Split Oak was created to offset habitat destruction elsewhere in 1991 as a mitigation bank. It is a habitat for the gopher tortoise and Florida Scrub Jay, among other species.

Trail System and Firebreaks

Over 24 miles of trails double as firebreaks, aiding in maintaining the park's ecosystems. These trails also offer recreational opportunities, connecting visitors to the area's natural beauty.

Protected Flora and Fauna

The forest is home to several protected species such as Gopher Tortoises, Florida Scrub-jay, and more.

Protected Flora and Fauna

The forest is home to several protected species

  • Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus): Listed as Threatened in Florida, with the tortoise and its burrow protected under state law.
  • Florida Scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens): Protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act and designated as Threatened by the Federal Endangered Species Act.
  • Additional species like the Swallow-tailed Kite, Sherman's Fox Squirrel, and Florida Sandhill Crane also find refuge here, highlighting the area's ecological diversity.

Our Activities

Friends of Split Oak Forest engages in various activities to support and promote the conservation of Split Oak Forest. Our past activities and offerings to the community encompass a range of advocacy, educational, and social initiatives, each aimed at fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for this vital ecological area. The following are a few examples of our activities:

Advocacy Efforts

Educational Programs

Community Engagement

Environmental Stewardship

Advocacy Efforts
  • Legal Challenges: Lead roles in legal actions against entities like CFX, Orange County, and Osceola to protect the forest from developmental threats.
  • Campaigns for Protection: Advocating for the forest's ecological integrity, particularly against developments like toll roads that could impact the area.
Educational Programs

Information Dissemination: Sharing fact-driven, non-political information about the importance and status of the forest.

Community Engagement
  • Social and Educational Events: Organizing events such as bioblitzes, Gopher Tortoise Day, and guided hikes to engage the community in hands-on learnings experiences.
  • Building Community Connections: Creating opportunities for community members to bond over shared interests in nature conservation and forest preservation.
Environmental Stewardship

Forest Management Support: Assisting in maintaining and enhancing the ecological health of Split Oak Forest through various stewardship activities.

Future Generations' Involvement

Fostering Long-Term Commitment: Aiming to ensure future generations remain invested in protecting and appreciating Split Oak Forest, ensuring its preservation for years to come.

In essence, Friends of Split Oak Forest plays a pivotal role in the protection and enhancement of Split Oak Forest. Our activities advocate for the forest's preservation and actively involve the community in appreciating and understanding the ecological importance of this natural treasure.

Get Involved: Your Action Matters

Split Oak Forest is at a critical juncture, facing imminent threats from road development projects that could irreparably harm this unique ecosystem. The forest needs your help. It's time to unite and take decisive action to safeguard this precious natural resource for future generations.

Reach Out to Commissioners

Make your voice heard by calling or emailing county commissioners. Express your concerns and urge them to prioritize the protection of Split Oak Forest.

Volunteer Your Skills

Whether you're a nature enthusiast, an educator, or have other talents, your contribution can make a significant difference. Volunteering is a powerful way to support our cause.


Financial support is crucial in our fight against unsustainable development. Every donation helps us continue our legal support, educational programs, and conservation efforts.

Attend & Spread the Word

Participate in our educational and advocacy events to fortify our community and enhance awareness of forest conservation. Engage with us on social media, share our cause, and invite others to join – every voice amplifies our collective message for Split Oak Forest.

Together, through these actions, we can make a significant impact in protecting Split Oak Forest. Join us in this crucial endeavor to defend a vital part of our natural heritage.