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Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation Celebrates Conservation of 21,000 Acres

By Florida's Original NatureCoaster™ Posted on March 14, 2023

An addition of more than 21,000 acres will be conserved through land acquisitions and conservation easements in the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

Thanks to a unanimous Cabinet vote today, 21,063 more acres of the Florida Wildlife Corridor gained permanent protection — a win for Florida’s ecology, economy and residents. All of the properties approved for acquisition or conservation easement were made possible through collaboration by organizations including Florida Conservation Group, Conservation Florida, The Conservation Fund, Trust for Public Land, and the state’s Florida Forever Program.

Although none of the acreage conserved through the March 13, 2023, vote is in the NatureCoaster area, we strongly support the mission of a connected landscape that is the Florida Wildife Corridor, of which our area is a valued and important piece.

The lands are a mix of Sentinel Landscape, native and working lands that provide habitat and connectivity for key Florida species including the Florida scrub jay, Apalachicola gopher tortoise, Eastern indigo snake, Florida black bear and the Florida panther. These protected lands fall within Highlands, Manatee, Osceola, Santa Rosa, and Liberty counties.

Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation Celebrates Partnerships & Properties Approved for Conservation

“The work to create and preserve the Florida Wildlife Corridor precedes us and will outlast us — it’s ambitious, it’s difficult, it’s visionary, it’s essential. This legacy can only be secured through collaborative efforts from partners across the state. This includes our state agencies, landowners, business owners, and non-governmental organizations like Florida Conservation Group, Conservation Fund, Trust for Public Land to name a few,” said Mallory Dimmitt, chief executive officer of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation. “With a ‘big tent’ mindset, we can leverage our best creative thinking, relationship building and collaborative problem solving to continue to conserve and connect Florida’s wild spaces. Florida deserves nothing less.”

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Act became law on July 1, 2021, with unanimous bipartisan approval. The signing of the act, combined with increased awareness of the Corridor and the consistent and meaningful funding it provides, has helped increase landowner interest and applications to the Florida Forever and Rural and Family Lands program. With these new approvals, 80,356 acres of land will have been protected in the Florida Wildlife Corridor by the State of Florida since the Act became effective.

Properties specific to the March 13 Cabinet meeting were supported by the dedicated efforts of partner organizations, including Archbold Biological Station, Conservation Florida, The Conservation Fund, North Florida Land Trust, Trust for Public Land, and private real estate agents. Federal investments were also provided by the Department of the Air Force and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In addition to approval of these new properties, the Cabinet also approved the 2023 Florida Forever Priority List and Annual Work Plan. At the beginning of each calendar year, the Florida Forever Work Plan is developed by the Division of State Lands from the high and high-medium priority projects on the priority list. The work plan guides the annual expenditure of the Florida Forever funding made available by the Legislature and reports the balance of Florida Forever appropriations, funding commitments for pending acquisitions and other related expenses for the upcoming fiscal year.

Photos 1 and 2 by Lauren Yoho / Wildpath, Photo 3 by George McKenzie Jr. / Wildpath, Photo 4 by Katie Bryden / Wildpath, Photo 5 by Max Kelly, Feature Image Map by Angeline Meeks / Archbold Biological Station



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