Governor and Cabinet Approve Florida Forever Acquisition in the Florida Keys

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Governor and Cabinet Approve Florida Forever Acquisition in the Florida Keys

~Land acquisition will protect hammocks, benefit ecosystem health
and provide recreational opportunities~


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet approved the acquisition of 38 acres within the Florida Keys Ecosystem Florida Forever project. The parcel, Wood Trust, is ranked as one of the highest priority projects in the Florida Forever Climate Change Lands category, providing unique habitat for many rare plants and animals. The lands will be managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"DEP is excited to have another opportunity to protect Florida's natural resources through this acquisition," said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. "The support of our partners in Monroe County and FWC has played an imperative role in this process. This acquisition is an example of how our communities are working together to address the impacts of global climate change in our state."

"This tract contains some of the most environmentally sensitive land remaining in the Keys," said Monroe County Mayor David Rice. "By purchasing this site, the Trustees will protect important habitat and retire the property's development potential, thereby helping maintain safe hurricane evacuation clearance times for the Keys."

The acquisition is key in protecting the imperiled and unique tropical hardwood hammock. With the existing adjacent 30-acre parcel to the south, this union creates one of the largest contiguous tracts of hardwood hammock remaining in the Lower Keys. Wood Trust also contains freshwater ponds and wetlands, critical to a variety of wildlife such as the Lower Keys marsh rabbit, Florida Key deer, Lower Keys striped mud turtle, Lower Keys ribbon snake and numerous other indigenous species.

In addition, native fruiting trees and shrubs in the hammocks provide a critical source of food and shelter for migratory birds. Great numbers of birds stop over in the Keys for fuel and water to gain the body mass and energy required for the long flights south in the fall to the Caribbean, Central America and South America. Passive recreational opportunities will be available as well on this parcel, once acquired.

The Wood Trust parcel is in an area designated as an Area of Critical State Concern. This designation requires state and local governments to focus on the protection of resources and public facilities of major statewide significance. The acquisition of this property will prevent future development and continue efforts to keep hurricane evacuations to under 24 hours.