Yesterday, the Florida Cabinet approved fee title purchases and conservation easements to permanently protect 5,286 acres through the Florida Forever and Rural & Family Lands Protection Programs (RFLPP). The land hosts some of Florida’s most iconic bird species, including Crested Caracaras, Florida Scrub-Jays, Burrowing Owls, and more, while also conserving critical headwaters, recreation areas, and military base buffer zones.
“People need natural spaces, for the wildlife they love and for their own mental and physical health. Audubon Florida applauds these Florida Forever purchases, which will enhance both the state’s environment and economy while providing critical military base buffer zones,” says Beth Alvi, Director of Policy for Audubon Florida.
RFLPP is an agricultural easement program. The Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services and the Florida Forest service use RFLPP 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 use while helping to protect our state’s precious natural resources.
Protected via conservation easement:
380 acres within the Myakka Ranchlands (Florida Forever)
761 acres within the Peace River Refuge (Florida Forever)
810 acres within the Seven Runs Creek Final Phase (Florida Forever)
668 acres within the Micco Ranch Bluff (Rural and Family Lands Protection Program)
748 acres within Highlands County (Rural and Family Lands Protection Program)
Protected via fee simple purchase:
1,901 acres within the Etoniah/Cross Florida Greenway (Florida Forever)
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.