WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: Environmental Leaders Applaud Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet Investing $103 Million to Conserve Vital Lands in Florida

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CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850-245-2112, DEPNews@FloridaDEP.gov

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: Environmental Leaders Applaud Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet Investing
$103 Million to Conserve Vital Lands in Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Yesterday, Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet approved the investment of more than $103 million to conserve nearly 40,000 acres across the state through the Florida Forever and Rural and Family Lands Protection programs.  

Read what environmental leaders and stakeholders are saying about these acquisitions: 

“The 10,464-acre Ingrams Crossing property contains critical habitat that is important for the federally endangered Florida panther to expand their territory and roam safely. This easement will also preserve biodiversity, and support farming and ranching - integral components of our state’s economy and culture. Additionally, the 6,929-acre Avalon Plantation LLC conservation easement will significantly expand crucial habitat for the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and many other imperiled wildlife. We thank the staff of DEP for all their work and thank the Florida Cabinet for their support and their commitment to protecting the resources so critical to our collective success.” Greg Knecht, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy in Florida. 

“Audubon Florida celebrates the Cabinet’s protection today of more than 60 square miles of habitat critical to wildlife, water quality and local communities. In Florida, our environment is the foundation for our economy, so these acquisitions and easements will help safeguard the prosperity and quality of life for all Floridians. Today’s additions stretch from the Panhandle to the Northern Everglades - this is a great day for swallow-tailed kites, red-cockaded woodpeckers, crested caracaras, Florida panthers and so much more.” Julie Wraithmell, Executive Director, Audubon Florida. 

“Conservation Florida applauds the extraordinary land conservation approvals made by Governor DeSantis and the Cabinet. Almost 40,000 acres of wild and working lands are one step closer to permanent protection thanks to the Florida Forever and the Rural and Family Lands programs being steadily funded and working at a pace commensurate with the loss of critical green space we’re encountering. Today’s approvals showcase Florida’s commitment to land conservation and the protection of a statewide wildlife corridor.” Traci Deen, President and Chief Executive Officer, Conservation Florida. 

“Today is worth celebrating. More than 100,000 acres have been approved for conservation within the Florida Wildlife Corridor since the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act became law on July 1, 2021. This milestone is thanks to the work of many entities and individuals, and it will benefit the state and nation in providing clean water, protecting countless species, and conserving wild Florida for future generations. On behalf of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation, I share my heartfelt thanks to our elected leaders, conservation partners, environmental champions and agency partners.” Mallory Dimmitt, Chief Executive Officer of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation. 

“From panther habitat in the Everglades to pine forests of the Florida Panhandle, I am grateful that the state of Florida has just approved the conservation of 13 properties that will contribute nearly 40,000 acres of new land protection in the Florida Wildlife Corridor.” Carlton Ward Jr., CEO for Wildpath and author of Path of the Panther: New Hope for Wild Florida. 

The Avalon conservation easements provide critical connections within the Florida Wildlife Corridor by ensuring wildlife habitat linkages between private conservation easements in the Red Hills region to our public lands along the Gulf Coast. This type of permanent conservation easement on private land protects our wetlands and natural habitats for numerous species while also naturally sequestering carbon and protecting water resources. Private land conservation is a cost-effective public investment for protecting large-scale ecosystem services. Shane Wellendorf, Land Conservancy Director, Tall Timbers.

The Fisheating Creek Florida Forever Project is essential for Florida panther conservation, protection of the Florida Wildlife Corridor, and the protection and restoration of Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades watershed. The Avalon Florida Forever Project helps enlarge existing conservation lands important to the Florida black bear and other fragmentation sensitive species and helps protect an important linkage in the Florida Wildlife Corridor. It also contributes to watershed protection essential for the health of the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve. – Julie Morris, Florida and Gulf Coast Programs Manager, National Wildlife Refuge Association. 

Archbold Biological Station applauds DEP and the Division of State Lands for their continued progress toward conserving the Florida Wildlife Corridor. In addition, the foresight of landowners throughout the state who seek to preserve the environmental values of their lands in perpetuity should be celebrated by all Floridians.  Joshua Daskin, Ph.D., Director of Conservation, Archbold Biological Station. 

“Today we want to thank our conservation partners who supported our efforts to acquire over 21,000 acres for the Florida Forever program and 19,000 acres for the Rural and Family Lands program. These acquisitions will further our continued commitment to expand the Florida Wildlife Corridor and provide clean water and recreational opportunities for both Florida residents and visitors.” Mara Gambineri, DEP Deputy Secretary for Land and Recreation.