New Everglades to Gulf Conservation Area Will Stretch Across Four Million Acres

Exciting news in Florida conservation.

This March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced the establishment of the newest unit in the National Wildlife Refuge System at a ceremony at the site of the country’s first national wildlife refuge. Audubon Florida’s Executive Director Julie Wraithmell, Director of Everglades Policy Kelly Cox, and Everglades Science Coordinator Paul Gray, PhD, were thrilled to join U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chief Martha Williams, and Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Vero Beach. Together they celebrated the establishment of the country’s newest refuge unit: The Everglades to Gulf Conservation Area.

The establishment clears the way for the USFWS to begin protecting land in the four million-acre conservation area with acquisitions, easements, and landowner incentive programs.

“Audubon hired the first warden at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge when it was founded, and these uniquely American conservation assets are more important now than ever. Public, private, and Tribal partnerships like this one are essential to the future of Florida, our way of life, and future prosperity.” — Julie Wraithmell, Executive Director, Audubon Florida

Special thanks to Audubon’s own Dr. Paul Gray, who in a private capacity as a rancher, donated the first seven acres needed to set this new refuge in motion!

This article appeared in the Spring State of the Everglades report. Click here for more information.

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