Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park is a Florida State Park, encompassing a 21,000-acre (85 km2) savanna in Alachua County, Florida lying between Micanopy and Gainesville. It is also a U.S. National Natural Landmark. It is crossed by both I-75 and U.S. 441 (which has a scenic outlook ramp). It is in the center of the Paynes Prairie Basin. The basin’s primary source of drainage is Alachua Sink. During occasional wet periods, the basin will become full. A notable period occurred from 1871 to 1891 when the Alachua Sink was temporarily blocked. During this period, shallow draft steamboats were a frequent sight on Alachua Lake in the center of the prairie. The region was also historically known as the Alachua Savannah. Its drainage has been modified by several canals. Since 1927, Camps Canal has linked the basin to the River Styx which leads to Orange Lake and eventually the Atlantic Ocean through the St. Johns River. That reduced the basins water intake by half. Additional changes to the prairie’s environment have been detrimental to its hydrology. In 1970, the state of Florida acquired the land and has been in the process of restoring the environment to a more natural condition ever since.

A landscape