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Florida Cabinet Approves Conservation Purchases to Protect 3,000 Acres in Everglades Headwaters NWR

Sandhill crane at Everglades Headwaters NWR | Keenan Adams/USFWS
Sandhill crane at Everglades Headwaters NWR | Keenan Adams/USFWS

Today, August 16th, the Florida Cabinet approved the purchases of two significant conservation properties that will protect more than 3,000 acres of pristine habitat within the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Partnership Area. These purchases will be made through the Division of State Lands (DSL) Florida Forever Program and serve as models of conservation partnerships that show what is possible when agencies and stakeholders work together to conserve our most important landscapes.

The purchase of Triple Diamond Ranch will place approximately 2000 acres into conservation, including some of Florida’s last remaining dry prairie habitat, and will allow for recreational access. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is partnering with DSL to purchase an additional 2000 acres. The Refuge Association has worked closely with the FWS and other NGO and agency partners to advance this important project. We would like to recognize Open Space Institute (OSI), who have been critical to the success of this multi-agency project and are facilitating the purchase with the landowners, DSL, and FWS. OSI is purchasing the 4000 acres of Triple Diamond and will be selling the respective parcels to DSL and FWS. The Florida Forest Service (FFS) and The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) are management partners and their support has been crucial to the success of this project.

The approved conservation easement purchase at Camp Lonesome Ranch will protect 1118 acres through the DSL Florida Forever Program. Camp Lonesome has been identified as one of the highest priority areas within Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Partnership Area. The Refuge Association worked with the FWS and the State of Florida together on this project. The Rural and Family Lands Protection Program and the Forever Florida program have been leaders in this multi-agency effort to leverage both state and federal dollars to achieve the maximum conservation impact possible.

These two conservation purchases have been years in the making and would not have been possible without the dedication of an extensive and diverse array of partners, not least of which are the ranchers who committed to placing their lands into conservation. The Refuge Association has worked in collaboration with Open Space Institute, Audubon Florida, The Nature Conservancy, DSL, FFS, FWC, FWS, sportsmen and many other partners to turn this conservation vision into a reality.

Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Partnership Area was established in 2012 through a combination of fee title and conservation easement purchases in order to protect critical, yet ever-shrinking habitat in central Florida. The prairies, forests, and wetlands that make up the refuge provide habitat for more than 30 threatened and endangered species, and as its name suggests, the refuge is also the beginning of the vast Greater Everglades Ecosystem. Water drains and is filtered through these lands on its way to the Kissimmee River, where it then moves on to Lake Okeechobee before heading further south through the Everglades and eventually emptying into the Florida Bay.

The conservation purchases at Triple Diamond and Camp Lonesome ranches will ensure the continued legacy of Florida’s ranchlands while securing irreplaceable habitat for successful landscape-level conservation.

Permanent link to this article: http://refugeassociation.org/2017/08/florida-cabinet-approves-conservation-purchases-to-protect-3000-acres-in-everglades-headwaters-nwr/

1 comment

  1. Kevin Boldenow says:

    Great News!

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