Audubon Florida presented its Sustainable Rancher of the Year award for 2016 to Lightsey Cattle Company Ranch on June 16 at the Florida Cattlemen’s Association annual convention. Well managed cattle ranches produce a wealth of important wildlife habitat. In fact, some of Florida’s most important wildlife habitat is located on these privately owned ranches. Beginning in 1962, the Florida Audubon Society established a partnership with leading ranchers to protect Florida’s most important Bald Eagle nesting habitat. Click here to see an article from the October 1962 edition of the Naturalist magazine.
Each year, Audubon Florida presents an award to the Florida cattle ranch that best exemplifies outstanding conservation stewardship.
Lightsey Cattle Company owns three ranches totaling 11,400 acres in ownership, with an additional 18,000 acres under lease. Most of the owned acreage has been in the Lightsey Family’s ownership since the mid-1800’s.
Included in Lightsey Cattle Company’s ownership are many thousands of acres of Kissimmee Prairie and hammock land, and Brahma Island in Lake Kissimmee. Brahma Island is home to as many as 20 pairs of nesting Bald Eagles.
Lightsey Cattle Company has been a pioneer in protecting wetlands, scrub, hammocks and pine flatwoods on its lands with perpetual conservation easements, beginning with one of the first major conservation easements in Florida 34 years ago. Most of the ranch’s ownership is currently under easements that were implemented in multiple easement transactions.
Managed by Cary and Marcia Lightsey and other members of the Lightsey family, Lightsey Cattle Company has a conservation-driven philosophy.
“Stewardship has to do with how we manage our time, talent, resources - our entire lives. We are blessed by having the task of caring for all that we possess in our lives, such as our land, livestock, wildlife, water air and our earth,” states Cary Lightsey.
“We are honored to be able to present this year’s Sustainable Rancher award to Lightsey Cattle Company Ranch,” stated Charles Lee, Director of Advocacy of Audubon Florida. “The Lightsey Family truly exemplifies the most important principles of conservation-minded land stewardship. “