This morning, the Florida Cabinet approved the protection of nearly 32,000 acres from the Panhandle’s Emerald Coast, to North Florida’s springs country, to the prairies of Southwest Florida, using state Florida Forever dollars. The approved purchases include:
Silver River—Marion County
South Walton (Topsail)—Walton County
Lake Wimico—Gulf County
Devil’s Garden—Hendry County
Bluffs of St. Teresa—Franklin and Wakulla counties
Less-than-Fee Conservation Easement:
Tippen Bay Ranch—DeSoto County
Green Swamp—Polk County
Protecting conservation lands through Florida Forever supports and strengthens Florida’s environment-dependent economy. From tourism to real estate, agriculture to defense, our state’s economy hinges on healthy wetlands, protected open space, and clean water. All seven of these proposals are remarkable acquisitions for the communities and the economies they support.
“What a victory to see these properties protected in perpetuity, for generations of people and wildlife alike,” said Julie Wraithmell, Executive Director for Audubon Florida. “This is what Florida Forever is truly about—protecting what makes our state special, our quality of life, and the bedrock foundation of our state’s economy.”
“Whether these are coastal buffers protecting a healthy Gulf of Mexico or habitat for imperiled wildlife in Florida’s heartland, protected lands like these are an investment in Florida’s prosperity,” said Beth Alvi, Director of Policy for Audubon Florida. “The Legislature appropriated funding to Florida Forever, and this is the Department of Environmental Protection delivering on the will of Florida’s public. They saw important opportunities to protect these places and negotiated savvy deals for the taxpayer.”
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.