Beyond the Boundaries

Everglades

Help Us Restore the Greater Everglades
for People and Wildlife

From the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes in the north to Big Cypress National Preserve in the south, the Greater Everglades region contains a wealth of habitats, including dry prairies, longleaf pine savannas, expansive working ranches and seasonally wet grasslands. This landscape provides homes and travel corridors for more than 30 threatened and endangered species, including rare Florida panthers.

NWRA is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners on an ambitious new plan to conserve land, water and wildlife in this landscape. The Greater Everglades Partnership Initiative‘s goals are to protect crucial wildlife habitat, ensure clean water supplies for more than 6 million people, sustain Florida’s ranching economy, increase recreational opportunities and safeguard wildlife migration corridors.

Significance and Threats

Florida Panther resting in a tree | Karen and John Hollingsworth

Florida’s vast Everglades region is a unique and world-famous wildlife resource. It is the home of iconic creatures such as American alligators, brown pelicans, egrets, spoonbills, herons and ibis. It also shelters one of our nation’s rarest animals, the endangered Florida panther, as well as the more common American black bear and bobcat. Among the imperiled bird species found in this landscape are the Everglades snail-kite, the Florida scrub jay and the crested caracara. This region also shelters some unique reptiles such as the gopher tortoise, indigo snake and the sand skink – a rare legless lizard that travels underneath the sand.

The Everglades also plays a crucial role in the lives of Florida’s human residents. It provides water supplies vital to millions of domestic users, along with businesses and farms. It also helps sustain livelihoods by providing fertile croplands and pastures for livestock grazing, as well as recreational opportunities that draw millions of tourists and their dollars.

As Florida’s human population has grown, the strain on the Everglades has increased. Land has been drained, paved over and plowed under; water supplies have been diverted and polluted. In addition to the direct threats to wildlife posed by these human activities, climate change poses a significant new challenge.

Conserving the Greater Everglades – A National Model

The Greater Everglades Partnership Initiative is an exciting new land conservation effort that relies on creative partnerships among governmental agencies, nonprofits groups and private landowners. Among other priorities, the partnership seeks to establish a new wildlife refuge and conservation area in the Everglades headwaters area north of Lake Okeechobee.

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Among the goals for the initiative:

  • Working collaboratively with cattle ranchers and other landowners to protect wildlife habitat, water resources and sustain the rural working landscape by focusing a range of conservation tools in this priority landscape, and supporting continued investment by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) which has been a leader in this landscape by providing funds for the acquisition of farm and ranchland conservation easements and enrolling private landowners in land/water restoration and management programs.
  • Establishing a new Everglades Headwaters Conservation Partnership Area

    Unique dry prairie habitat at Lake Wales Ridge National Wildlife Refuge | Reed Bowman

    from the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes stretching southward toward Lake Okeechobee. This effort includes the establishment of a new Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area with a combination of land acquisition, conservation easements and habitat improvement programs. 

  • Working collaboratively with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to protect and manage hunting and fishing access in appropriate areas.
  • Expanding conservation buffer areas around Avon Park Air Force Range. The Department of Defense is working as a member of the Partnership to expand its investment in conserving areas that will both buffer this strategically important air training base and also protect important wildlife habitat and water resources.
  • Studying the creation of a Fisheating Creek Conservation Partnership Area that would potentially stretch from the western slope of Lake Wales Ridge to Fisheating Creek to protect and restore grassland habitat, waterways, and endangered species. This effort would bring together the combined resources of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the State of Florida.
  • Studying the potential to expand the boundary of Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge to create a Conservation Partnership Area that would link with the Fisheating Creek Study Area. The expansion would secure important migration corridors for Florida panther and Florida black bear.

What NWRA is doing

NWRA is playing a significant role within The Greater Everglades Partnership Initiative to help conserve this landscape. NWRA’s role includes:

  • Organizing diverse stakeholders around common objectives;
  • Preparing resource maps, studies and reports needed for refuge creation and expansion;
  • Providing outreach and communication assistance to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service;
  • Advocating for federal funds to acquire land and conservation easements;
  • Organizing grassroots support from “Friends” groups and others to help bring decision makers on board.

What can you do to help?

By making a tax-deductible contribution to NWRA, you’ll enable our team to continue its efforts to conserve the Greater Everglades and other landscapes and wildlife across the country. Please consider making a donation today.

You can also join our Action Team and receive alerts about actions you can take on behalf of the refuge system and the wildlife. Through the Action Network you will be able to learn about pending legislation in Congress and send your thoughts about these measures directly to your congressperson. Please join today and help us stand up for the refuges!

Map of the Everglades Headwaters Conservation Partnership National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area:

Areas identified for conservation. Click map for a larger version.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://refugeassociation.org/everglades/