Wednesday, January 18, 2012
As part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today accepted a 10-acre donation of land in south-central Florida to officially establish the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area, conserving one of the last remaining grassland and longleaf pine savanna landscapes in eastern North America.
The land, donated by The Nature Conservancy, is part of the Hatchineha Ranch south of Kissimmee and provides valuable habitat for a wide variety of wildlife including bald eagles, swallow-tailed kites and gopher tortoises.
“The Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area is an example of the 21st century approach to conservation envisioned by President Obama when he unveiled his America’s Great Outdoors initiative last year,” Salazar said. “Working in close partnership with landowners, we are bolstering ongoing efforts to conserve the Everglades in the Kissimmee Valley, while ensuring the area’s ranching and farming heritage remains strong.”
The new refuge and conservation area is the 556th unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
If fully realized, the refuge and conservation area will span 150,000 acres north of Lake Okeechobee. Two-thirds of the acreage, or 100,000 acres, will be protected through conservation easements purchased from willing sellers. With easements, private landowners would retain ownership of their land, as well as the right to work the land to raise cattle or crops. The easements would ensure the land could not be developed.
The Service is working closely with ranchers and other private landowners, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other state agencies, conservation organizations, users’groups, Native American Tribes and federal agencies in the creation of the new refuge and conservation area.
“The refuge and conservation area supports the Fish and Wildlife Service’s emphasis on strategic habitat conservation at a landscape level by building on the large number of ongoing conservation efforts in the Kissimmee River Valley,” Service Director Dan Ashe said. “One of the criteria to consider for all acquisitions, whether through easements or purchase of fee title, is whether the acquisition will connect existing conservation lands and create habitat corridors for plants and animals.”
For more information:
Dean Mead’s Agribusiness Industry Team continues to monitor developments relating to the establishment of, and acquisition of land and easements for, the NWR. If you have questions, please contact Dean Mead shareholder, Dennis G. Corrick, at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also invite you to learn more about Dean Mead’s Agribusiness Industry Team at http://www.deanmead.com/industries/agribusiness/.