HomeFlorida NewsGovernor Ron DeSantis approves investment to protect Florida's natural lands

Governor Ron DeSantis approves investment to protect Florida’s natural lands


Tallahassee, Florida – Governor Ron DeSantis and his team have decided to invest in protecting almost 28,000 acres of natural areas in Florida. This move aims to connect already existing conservation spaces. Notably, this includes the first purchase in the Caloosahatchee-Big Cypress Corridor, which is crucial for the Everglades and the habitat of panthers.

“Florida continues to lead the way in land conservation and protecting our natural resources,” stated Governor Ron DeSantis. “These protections will further protect our natural lands for Florida’s families to enjoy for generations to come.

Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, there has been a heightened focus on preserving land, saving species at risk of extinction, connecting natural landscapes, securing water sources, and maintaining agricultural and coastal lands. Since 2019, Florida’s lawmakers have allocated over $1.25 billion to the Florida Forever Program, with an annual contribution of $100 million. This consistent financial support has allowed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to acquire more than 220,000 acres for conservation, with 90% of this land being part of the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton expressed, “I am grateful to the Governor and Cabinet for their unwavering commitment to environmental stewardship and public lands. Every new land acquisition furthers the protection of our natural resources and adds to Florida’s reputation as an ecotourism destination.

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Details on the approved land purchases:

  • 25,039 acres will be acquired within the Caloosahatchee-Big Cypress Corridor in Collier and Hendry counties. This acquisition will link several important conservation areas, creating a continuous habitat for many species at risk, including the Florida panther, within the Florida Wildlife Corridor.
  • 1,361 acres will be acquired within the Yarborough Ranch Florida Forever Project in Seminole County. This area will protect the Econlockhatchee River and the Geneva Freshwater Lens, a crucial source of drinking water. Surrounded by conservation land, it offers essential connections for various species, including the Florida black bear, and is part of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. It will be managed by the Florida Forest Service as part of the Little Big Econ State Forest.
  • 1,342 acres will be secured within the Lake Hatchineha Watershed Florida Forever Project in Polk County, enhancing public recreational spaces and bridging gaps in the conservation landscape. This land, under threat from development plans, will now be preserved as a Wildlife Management Area by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and is part of the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

Furthermore, the Governor and Cabinet have endorsed the purchase of permanent conservation easements over 8,000 acres of agricultural land through the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. This includes over 3,000 acres in the Heart Bar Ranch, a historic cattle ranch run by a family since 1847, shortly after Florida became a state.

Additionally, they approved the Florida Forever Priority List and the Annual Florida Forever Work Plan for the fiscal year 2024–25, outlining how the Florida Forever funds will be used. The Priority List includes 128 projects over more than 2.1 million acres, with 99 of these projects located within the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

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