Florida Cabinet and Governor Approve 19,800+ Acres for Conservation

Projects will protect critical headwaters, working forests, and recreation areas.

Today, the Governor and Cabinet approved conservation projects that included a mix of fee title purchases and conservation easements to permanently protect more than 19,800 acres, or a total area of 31 square miles, through the Florida Forever and Rural & Family Lands Protection programs (RFLPP). By permanently protecting these areas, we are preserving critical headwaters, working forests, and recreation areas while protecting the habitat of some of Florida’s most iconic bird species, including Florida Scrub-Jays and Burrowing Owls.

“These significant conservation decisions made today demonstrate how Florida Forever and the Rural and Family Lands Protection programs work together to steward the Sunshine State’s critical natural resources. As our state grows and develops so should our attention to preserving Florida’s special places. We need all the tools in our toolbox to protect our natural landscapes through fair, transparent processes,” said Julie Wraithmell, Executive Director for Audubon Florida.

Protected via conservation easement:

615 acres within the Crippen Properties, Okeechobee County (Florida Forever)

3,634 acres within Abington Preserve, Okeechobee County (Florida Forever)

11,958 acres within Horse Creek, DeSoto & Hardee Counties (Florida Forever)

633 acres within the Hendrie Ranch, Highlands County (Rural and Family Lands Protection Program)

1,883 acres within the Buck Island Ranch, Highlands County (Rural and Family Lands Protection Program)

Protected via fee simple purchase:

376 acres within the St. Joe Timberland project, Franklin County (Florida Forever)

768 acres within Wolfe Creek project, Santa Rosa County (Florida Forever)

Rural & Family Lands Protection Program

RFLPP is an agricultural easement program managed by the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services and the Florida Forest service to protect important agricultural lands through the acquisition of permanent land conservation easements. This program partners with federal programs such as the Department of Defense and NRCS, leveraging state appropriated funds dollar for dollar with these federal sources.

As working lands are under increasing economic pressure to be divided and sold, RFLPP preserves our rural landscapes, allowing Florida’s landowners to preserve agricultural land, keeping it in their ownership while helping to protect our state’s precious natural resources.

Florida Forever Program

Since 2001, more than 800,000 acres have been protected through the Florida Forever program, which has enjoyed broad public support statewide. These properties and more make up Florida’s award-winning state park system, wildlife management area system, state forest system, and other parks and preserves for the enjoyment of Floridians and visitors alike.

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