Over 5,000 acres of outstanding wildlife habitat has been protected in perpetuity by conservation easement purchases approved by the Governor and Cabinet earlier this week. Eric Draper, Audubon Florida Executive Director, spoke to the Governor and Cabinet urging approval of the easement proposals.
The easement purchases include 3,245 acres on Adams Ranch just south of Lake Marion in Osceola County and 528 acres from Camp Lonesome Ranch within the Big Bend Swamp/Holopaw Ranch Florida Forever project.
A third easement protects 1,617 acres of the JB Ranch in eastern Collier County, including land considered prime habitat for the endangered Florida Panther. The Collier County easement had been authorized for purchase in 2015 but required a return to the Cabinet for approval of additional funds from the state due to a delay in the receipt of federal matching funds.
Florida’s cattle ranchers have been extraordinarily good conservation land stewards and many want to assure that their ranch lands are never converted to development. Audubon Florida strongly supports the Rural and Family Lands conservation easement program, as well as easement purchases through the Florida Forever program.