WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: Environmental Leaders Applaud Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida Cabinet for Investing $141 Million to Expand Conservation Footprint by 42,000 Acres

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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 Florida Cabinet for Investing $141 Million to Expand Conservation Footprint by 42,000 Acres 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – On Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet approved the investment of over $141 million to conserve more than 42,000 acres across the state.

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

Audubon celebrates these important conservation land acquisitions and the progress they represent. In the last few years, the Governor and Legislature have made a commitment to landscape-scale conservation with substantial, consistent funding. The result has been the Trustees' ability to pick up the pace, delivering more high quality acquisitions like these, quickly and transparently, protecting the places essential to Florida's water, wildlife and resiliency. Leadership like this on behalf of our natural resources is essential to Floridians' well-being and prosperity.” – Julie Wraithmell, Executive Director, Audubon Florida. 

The Everglades Foundation joins the state of Florida and many organizations in celebrating this significant land acquisition, adjacent to Big Cypress National Preserve. Ensuring the perpetual protection of our remaining natural spaces is critical for our urban areas to thrive. This acquisition will realize many benefits throughout the ecosystem, including water and habitat protection. We commend the state and look forward to the continued commitment to restore America’s Everglades.” – Eric Eikenberg, Chief Executive Officer, The Everglades Foundation.

“Archbold congratulates DEP and the Florida Forever program on the nearly 30,000 acres of land permanently added to Florida's conservation future today. The announced properties span from the great timberlands of North Florida to the Everglades ecosystem in the south, with critical rare species habitats and water resources receiving long-term conservation. Moreover, all the properties are within the Florida Wildlife Corridor and contribute to the shared goal of connecting wildlife habitats statewide.” – Joshua Daskin, Ph.D., Director of Conservation, Archbold Biological Station. 

“Conservation Florida applauds the outstanding land conservation approvals made on Monday by Governor DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet. Over 42,000 acres of wild and working lands are closer to permanent protection thanks to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of State Lands’ Florida Forever program and the Florida Department of Agriculture’s Rural and Family Lands Protection Programs combined. These approvals for protection illustrate the importance of continued funding for conservation in Florida to keep up with the daily loss of critical green space we’re experiencing. Thank you to Florida’s leaders for ensuring the state’s commitment to land conservation and the protection of a functional Florida Wildlife Corridor.” – Traci Deen, President and Chief Executive Officer, Conservation Florida. 

“Florida Forever’s purchase of the Natural Bridge Timberlands is a tremendous opportunity to protect a large natural and working landscape adjacent to one of Florida’s development growth centers that will provide ecosystem services, biodiversity, storm protection and resource-based recreational opportunities in the Tallahassee region.” – Julie Morris, Florida and Gulf Coast Programs Manager, National Wildlife Refuge Association. 

“The Corridor Foundation deeply appreciates the visionary leadership of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that has stood alongside all of the partners working to permanently protect and connect the Florida Wildlife Corridor. Their continued support amplifies our collective efforts, and while we celebrate these achievements, we also acknowledge that the work is far from over and it will take continued collaboration, increased funding and an accelerated pace of projects to meet the ever pressing need to keep the Corridor Connected.” – Mallory Dimmitt, Chief Executive Officer, Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation. 

Tall Timbers greatly appreciates the Florida Cabinet and DEP for their commitment to protecting the Red Hills region of North Florida. The Cherokee conservation easement provides a critical connection to existing conservation lands and protects amazing pine savannas managed with prescribed fire along with cypress-dominated wetlands and working forestlands. Thanks to the conservation ethic of private landowners and the collective efforts of many partners, we are ensuring the sustainability of wildlife, water and our way of life in the Red Hills for generations to come. – Shane Wellendorf, Land Conservancy Director, Tall Timbers. 

“This is a huge step forward for the protection of the Florida Wildlife Corridor! The six properties approved Monday by Governor DeSantis and the Cabinet will secure 42,000 acres of habitat vital to the future of wildlife, food production, water and resilience in our rapidly developing state. I personally photographed three of the properties and am blown away by their beauty and legacy. There have now been more than 160,000 acres approved for protection in the Florida Wildlife Corridor since 2021, when the geography was defined in state law.” – Carlton Ward Jr., Chief Executive Officer, Wildpath and author of Path of the Panther: New Hope for Wild Florida. 

Longleaf pine forests are one of the most threatened and ecologically diverse ecosystems in the world, and conserving this landscape not only protects critical habitat to numerous federally and state protected plant and animal species, but also offers public access to recreational opportunities as part of the state forest. Seeing such support from the Florida Cabinet for the Florida Forever program along with the strategic collaboration with many public and private partners is encouraging for the future of this incredible ecosystem benefiting Floridians for years to come. – Doug Hattaway, Senior Project Manager, Trust for Public Land. 

“The Devil’s Garden Florida Forever project has long been a priority of The Nature Conservancy (TNC). We congratulate the Governor, Cabinet, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Alico Inc. for adding 17,229 acres to this project, and we applaud the state of Florida’s commitment to protecting this critical linkage for the survival of our iconic Florida panther. TNC further celebrates the addition of 4,808 acres in western Leon County to the Red Hills Conservation Florida Forever project. This acquisition ensures wetlands protection and groundwater recharge, while providing important wildlife corridor improvements and sustainable forestry opportunities, significantly expanding upon the successes achieved with the protection of the unique and historic Red Hills landscape.” – Greg Knecht, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy in Florida.