Land parcels to be conserved through Florida Wildlife Corridor Act will preserve crucial linkages in the Corridor
March 30, 2022 – Yesterday at the Florida Cabinet meeting, seven parcels of land totaling 16,706 acres within the Florida Wildlife Corridor were approved for acquisition and conservation easement by the Board of Trustees for conservation.
These seven parcels of land are uniquely positioned to address key conservation focuses, including the preservation of ancient scrub, archeological and prehistoric sites, and the protection of endangered and at-risk species like the Florida panther and the swallow-tailed kite. This protected land ranges from the Everglades watershed to ancient longleaf pine forests and provides key connections for the Florida Wildlife Corridor to preserve the ecosystems necessary to maintain Florida’s unique biodiversity.
“The Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation and our partners applaud Governor Ron DeSantis and the Board of Trustees for their leadership in safeguarding Florida’s wild legacy for future generations. This $32 million public investment is a huge step toward preserving key linkages throughout the Florida Wildlife Corridor,” said Jason Lauritsen, Chief Conservation Officer of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation. “Yesterday’s approval will further protect wildlife and safeguard water supplies for residents and visitors. We hope that these acquisitions and conservation easement agreements close smoothly and swiftly and that we continue marking substantial progress through regular additive conservation action that will protect the Florida Wildlife Corridor for generations to come.”
The Florida Wildlife Corridor Act became law on July 1, 2021, with unanimous bipartisan approval. At a Cabinet meeting in September 2021, 19,739 acres of land were approved for acquisition. Yesterday marks the second Cabinet meeting since the Act was signed and is a critical step in supporting the Florida Wildlife Corridor. With yesterday’s announcement, a total of 36,445 acres of land will be protected through public investment by the State of Florida since the Act.
These milestones were made possible by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Forever Program and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service’s Florida Forest Service (FFS) Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. Properties specific to the March 29 Cabinet meeting were supported by the dedicated efforts of partners organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, Trust for Public Land, Florida Conservation Group, National Wildlife Refuge Association, Tall Timbers, and private real estate agents. Federal investment was also provided by the Forest Legacy Program, a conservation program administered by the U.S. Forest Service through the Florida Forest Service, as well as the Department of Defense to help buffer military bases in the Corridor. Three of the newly approved properties are within the recently designated Northwest Florida Sentinel Landscape surrounding Eglin Air Force Base in the panhandle.
“We are committed to the stewardship of Florida’s forestland,” said Erin Albury, State Forester and Director of the Florida Forest Service. “The Rural and Family Lands Program and Forest Legacy Program provide us with opportunities to join our partners in continuing to protect and conserve our natural resources.”
To help understand the importance of these land parcels and visualize the land, the Corridor Foundation, Path of the Panther, and Archbold Biological Station have developed a media kit with photos, video footage, and maps representing the newly approved properties, available here. Please feel free to download and use these materials.