Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced on March 13th, 2023 the approval of an investment of over $46.6 million to conserve five properties across the state, totaling more than 21,000 acres. The conservation efforts are aimed at protecting Florida's unique and diverse natural resources for future generations.
Four out of the five properties are located in the Florida Wildlife Corridor, a network of connected lands and waters that sustain Florida's best wild places and protect over 700 imperiled species.
"This action will protect our water resources, enhance wildlife and habitat connections, and provide additional public recreation opportunities for our residents and visitors," said Governor Ron DeSantis, emphasizing the importance of preserving Florida's natural beauty.
The acquisitions approved include the Telogia Creek Florida Forever project, which involves acquiring 12,439 acres in Liberty County to protect habitat and increase linkages between public land and private conservation easements. This acquisition will benefit native, imperiled Florida wildlife such as the gopher tortoise, Apalachicola alligator snapping turtle, and eastern indigo and Florida pine snakes.
The Wolfe Creek Forest Florida Forever project will acquire 1,506 acres in Santa Rosa County, providing a corridor between Blackwater River State Forest and other state-owned conservation lands near Whiting Field Naval Air Station. This acquisition will expand public recreational opportunities and benefit the Northwest Florida Sentinel Landscape and the Florida Wildlife Corridor.
The acquisition of a conservation easement over 4,222 acres within the Big Bend Swamp/Holopaw Ranch Florida Forever project in Osceola County will protect natural areas for rare or endangered Florida wildlife such as the Florida sandhill crane, Florida grasshopper sparrow, Sherman's fox squirrel, red cockaded woodpecker, swallow-tailed kite, and crested caracara.
Two conservation easements over approximately 1,611 acres within the Myakka Ranchlands Florida Forever project in Manatee County will protect a system of conservation areas in Southwest Florida, providing habitat for several species, including the Florida panther.
Lastly, the conservation easement over 1,285 acres within the Blue Head Ranch Florida Forever project in Highlands County will enhance the habitat of numerous rare and imperiled species and ensure the environmental and hydrological health of the Florida Everglades Ecosystem.
The 2023 Florida Forever Priority List and the Annual Florida Forever Work Plan for Fiscal Year 2023-24 were also approved. The priority list includes 129 projects containing more than 2.2 million acres, and the work plan contains 56 projects, with 46 located in the Florida Wildlife Corridor.
"These approvals mark a crucial moment in permanently protecting and creating a landscape corridor, providing safe habitat for wide-ranging and sensitive species," said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton.
The conservation efforts highlight the government's commitment to preserving Florida's natural resources and protecting the state's unique and diverse ecosystems for future generations.
Chandler Langevin told Indian River News “It's important we balance our growth with conserving the beauty of our unique Florida ecosystems. The Florida Wildlife Corridor is a crucial link to protecting those species emblematic of our great state such as our panthers and scrub jays. This is one more example of Governor DeSantis following through for our state and doing the right thing. It's an exciting time to be in sweet, sweet, Florida!”
Langevin serves as President of youth scouting organization Florida Scouts and is a 2024 Republican Candidate for Florida State House District 33.
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