When visiting the creek environment, please remember that most of our creeks receive stormwater that can carry pollutants. Due to their urban environment, most of the creeks have bacteria levels that exceed state standards and could pose a health risk to humans and pets even when the water looks inviting. Please enjoy our creeks from designated trails in our parks.
Bivens Arm is a small shallow lake covering approximately 189 acres in southwest Gainesville. Bivens Arm is a unique environment, which supports a wide diversity of plant and animal life in an urban setting. Tumblin Creek, which is fed by small springs and seeps, drains into Bivens Arm and is the primary source of drainage into the lake. Bivens Arm overflows onto Paynes Prairie and eventually discharges to the aquifer via Alachua Sink. The lake area is designated as a wildlife sanctuary.
Bivens Arm is surrounded by apartments, restaurants, hotels, private residences and the University of Florida’s restricted access Conservation Area Bivens Rim Forest as well as some of UF’s agricultural facilities. Tumblin Creek feeds the lake, and as it flows through urban areas brings pollutants to this lake. Water quality testing at the lake shows that it is consistently above state Numeric Nutrient Criteria thresholds for nitrogen and phosphorus. The source of pollutants is likely from Tumblin Creek. For more information on water quality, download the Bivens Arm Fact Sheet here. Additionally, water quality monitoring information is available for Bivens Arm. To access this data, please visit here and access the monitoring stations and data by clicking on the station on the interactive map.
Plan A Visit
Bivens Arm Nature Park is 57 acres of marsh and oak hammock with a wildlife sanctuary, shaded family picnic grounds, an observation pavilion and a mile-long nature trail with a 1,200 foot boardwalk. A series of loops lets you wander up to 1.5 miles on natural footpaths.
• The name refers to the marshy “arm” that protrudes from Paynes Prairie along which the park is located.
• The earliest known use of the land around the lake was as hunting grounds by Native Americans.
• Beginning in the late 1800s, the land was used mostly for agricultural purposes including cattle ranching, swine farms, vegetable farms, and orange groves.
• In the 1930s, Bivens Arm was designated as a bird sanctuary and rookery and even had a resident ranger to care for the sanctuary.
• In 1965, the state of Florida designated the lake area as a wildlife sanctuary.
• In 1981, the City of Gainesville purchased the land between the lake and Williston Road to form the Bivens Arm Nature Park. This was the City’s very first nature park.
A bald eagles nest is present on the northwestern portion of Bivens Arm, adjacent to the university’s Environmental Horticulture building. Other animals that have been identified on site include: Gray Squirrel, Raccoon, Feral Cat, Armadillo, Gray Fox Pig Frog, Black Racer(1), Anolis carolinensis, Brown anole, Common Ground Skink, Leopard Frog, Southern Toad, Squirrel Tree Frog(7), Unidentified Water Snake, Florida Box Turtle, Common Snapping Turtle, American Goldfinch, American Robin, American Redstart, Anhinga, Baltimore Oriole, Black and White Warbler, Belted Kingfisher, Blue-Gray gnatcatcher, Brown-headed cowbird, Blue-headed Vireo, Blue Jay, Blackpoll Warbler, Brown Thrasher, Boat-tailed Grackle, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, Cedar Waxwing, Common Grackle, Common Yellowthroat, Double-Crested Cormorant, Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Tohee, Eastern Tufted Titmouse, Great Blue Heron, Great Crested Flycatcher, Gray Catbird, Great Egret, Hermit Thrush, House Finch, House Wren, Mourning Dove, Northern Cardinal, Northern Flicker, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Parula, Osprey, Ovenbird, Painted Bunting, Palm Warbler, Pine Warbler, Pileated Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Red-eyed Vireo, RedShouldered Hawk, Red-winged Blackbird, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Yellowrumped Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, and the Yellow-throated Warbler. The lake is also home to alligator as well as catfish and brim.
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