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Conservation Partnerships in Florida

Over five million acres of conservation lands are owned by the state of Florida, which boasts one of the most successful land conservation programs in the world -- Florida Forever. Since 1990 the state‘s annual land acquisition budget of $300 million far exceeds that of any other state. Just a few of its success stories include:

  • the Archie Carr Sea Turtle Refuge, which helps protect the western hemisphere’s most important nesting beach for loggerhead turtles;
  • purchase of critical habitat in the Florida Keys for American crocodile and many species endemic to the Keys;
  • protection of rare pitcher plant prairies in the Florida Panhandle. 

28 of Florida’s 67 counties have land acquisition programs that contribute to the more than 400,000 acres managed for conservation by local governments. For example, the Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands Program has helped protect more than 18,000 acres of sensitive land, much of it imperiled scrub habitat that supports Florida scrub-jays. Federal lands managed for conservation in Florida include 27 national wildlife refuges, three national forests, three national parks, and over half a million acres of Department of Defense lands. Eglin Air Force Base in the Panhandle is an important stronghold for the Florida black bear and encompasses the entire range of the federally endangered Okaloosa darter. Private organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and Florida Audubon Society also play an important role in Florida’s conservation story, acquiring and managing special places such as the TNC Blowing Rocks Preserve on the Atlantic Coast and the Audubon Crocodile Lakes Sanctuary in the Keys. 

Conservation efforts do not end with acquisition. Land management is essential to maintaining ecological systems and Florida’s state land managing agencies—primarily the Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Division of Forestry, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and five Water Management Districts—employ progressive strategies to preserve and restore natural ecosystems. 

Another major conservation initiative in Florida is the Cooperative Conservation Blueprint, a process to help conserve vital working landscapes and natural resources while maintaining a sustainable economy and agriculture opportunities. The Blueprint will also help to guide future land-use planning decisions and recommend market-based incentives that encourage conservation.


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