5,785-Acre Conservation Easement Added to Lower Suwannee National Refuge and Big Bend Coast

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5,785-Acre Conservation Easement Added to Lower Suwannee National Refuge and Big Bend Coast


Photo Courtesy of The Conservation Fund

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.  – Today, Governor DeSantis and the Cabinet approved the purchase of a conservation easement over 5,785 acres in Dixie County within the Lower Suwannee River and Gulf Watershed Florida Forever project.

Purchase of this easement will buffer and conserve the natural resources of the Suwannee River and the Gulf of Mexico, protecting habitat and corridors for rare plants and animals over a wide span of undeveloped public lands.

"Natural resources are the backbone of Dixie County. This acquisition will allow ecotourism to flourish," said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. "Through a multi-agency effort, this Florida Forever Project creates a continuous corridor of conservation area and working lands."

“This easement is an important investment in Gulf water quality, wildlife habitat, the region’s forest economy, and future resilience,” said Julie Wraithmell, Executive Director, Audubon Florida. “We are grateful for the Governor and Cabinet’s leadership in protecting this important part of Florida.”

“The Lyme Timber Company, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and The Conservation Fund have long pursued establishing permanent working forest conservation easements in Dixie County,” said Tom Morrow, managing director of The Lyme Timber Company LP. "The lands will remain on the local tax rolls and continue to be actively and sustainably managed timberland providing employment to local foresters, logging contractors and mills.”

“The Conservation Fund is honored to partner with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Lyme Timber Company on this truly unique effort that helps provide clean water and air, wildlife habitat, jobs and economic benefits to communities in Florida’s Big Bend,” said Lauren Day, Florida Field Representative for the nonprofit The Conservation Fund. “This project supports the health of the Lower Suwannee River and Gulf of Mexico and will help increase coastal resiliency during major storms. Protecting this tract is part of an unprecedented partnership, involving numerous and diverse partners that are united in protecting this critical watershed to safeguard our environment and economy.”

Florida Forever is the state's conservation and recreation lands acquisition program, a blueprint for conserving natural resources and renewing Florida's commitment to conserve natural and cultural heritage. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is Florida’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship.