DOI Announces New Everglades Headwaters NWR & Conservation Area
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 new refuge and conservation area – the 556th unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System -- is being established through a land donation from the Nature Conservancy of Florida with the support of local ranchers and landowners who have worked cooperatively with Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conserve their lands while retaining their right to raise cattle or crops, an approach championed by the Obama administration.
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.