Landowner Conservation Associations: A New Opportunity for Florida Landowners

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

(Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.)

Landowner Conservation Associations: A New Opportunity for Florida Landowners

By Arlo Kane, Private lands biologist, Landowner Assistance Program, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The idea of landowners getting together to form a cooperative to manage for quality deer has been around for quite a while. But the idea of landowners getting together to manage their habitat on a landscape scale to benefit a larger number of species is fairly new. Landowner Conservation Associations (LCAs) are groups of landowners who are like-minded about protecting and improving wildlife habitat in their area.

Today there are a lot of people who maybe didn’t grow up on a farm yet want to buy a farm and move to the country, or simply have some forest land that they can develop into a place for outdoor recreation. Increasingly we see a lot of new small farms across Florida’s rural landscape.

Every day, we run into people who have not had previous experience managing a farm or timberland. Even people who have grown up on farms and ranches may need some help to manage their land to benefit wildlife. I recently rode around a farm with a landowner who said, “We have plenty of food for deer but just don’t see them like we used to.” My response was, “That’s funny because I don’t see hardly any food for deer.” There was a lot of green vegetation but very little of it was preferred deer browse and much of it had grown out of reach for deer. If he hadn’t sought advice, he might have gone on for years not making any significant progress toward his wildlife management goals. One big thing in his favor is that he understood the big picture and realized that he needed his neighbors working toward a similar goal if he was going to see a significant improvement in his deer herd. He understood that his farm was a patch in the larger quilt of deer habitat.

Now let’s take that same concept and apply it to landscape-scale management of habitat and wildlife in general. Most species require more habitat than a single landowner owns. Landowners working together can provide quality habitat for a variety of wildlife on a scale that makes a difference.

There are many benefits to forming an LCA. An LCA is a great way to get to know your neighbors and share stories about what you are doing on your land and learn from what they are doing on theirs. Forming an LCA far exceeds managing deer harvest to protect young bucks. Controlling invasive species like cogongrass, for example, can be a losing battle if your neighbor is not controlling it on his or her side of the fence as well. Even though you may not own a lot of land, joining in with neighbors can help management on your land have a bigger impact. Many landowners don’t have all the equipment or experience they need to be able to manage their land. Sharing resources and knowledge with another neighbor could solve that problem. There also are a lot of experts willing to talk to a group about wildlife and habitats, and it is easier to come talk to a group of landowners than just one. Attending a workshop can be enlightening but holding one on your property with your neighbors can be much more rewarding.

What overall benefits could you get by joining or starting an LCA? Members can help each other with management by assisting with prescribed burning, treating invasives, reducing hog damage, game management, non-game management, timber management and sharing knowledge. I know several landowners who are much more knowledgeable about plant identification than I am and who are more than willing to help other landowners identify what’s on their property. True conservation starts by knowing what’s on your land and understanding why it is important to keep or remove a particular plant or animal.

So how do you get started? Start by finding out if there is any interest in starting a LCA by talking to your neighbors or holding a get-together. Having a cookout is a good way to get neighbors to show up for an informal meeting. If there is interest, hold a second meeting and develop a plan for communication. Communication is key to forming LCAs. Email, Facebook, websites or an old-fashioned phone list can all be used to communicate with each other. Usually there is no fee or formal organizational structure. LCAs meet at least once a year to talk about projects and update others on what you are doing on your property. Other meetings can be held throughout the year, depending on what the group wants to do. It is important to note that LCAs are voluntary and do not give others the right to access your land.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Landowner Assistance Program has biologists who can help you with technical advice or give a presentation to your LCA. FWC biologists can help you put on a workshop or tour on your property for LCA members. Private landowners are the key to landscape-scale management. Public lands can only do so much. They are islands surrounded by private lands that form the corridor linking them together. A favorite quote of mine from Aldo Leopold says, “Conservation can accomplish its objectives only when it springs from an impelling conviction on the part of private landowners.” The key to the future of wildlife conservation lies in the hands of private landowners.

To learn more about managing wildlife on your property, check out our habitat how-to section at the FWC’s Landowner Assistance Program by going to You can also contact an LAP regional biologist for technical assistance.


Bookmark and Share