Dept. of Interior Unveils Plan for Everglades Headwaters Conservation Area
As part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today formally proposed the establishment of a new national wildlife refuge and conservation area in the Kissimmee River Valley, south of Orlando, Fla., to preserve one of the last remaining grassland and longleaf pine savanna landscapes in eastern North America.
Building on the conservation work of private landowners, state and federal conservation agencies, conservation groups, and the public, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's proposal is a strong example of how conservation partners are working to preserve the area's rich ranching heritage and way of life, while protecting the headwaters of the Everglades in the Kissimmee River Basin and connecting valuable habitats benefiting the area's rich fish and wildlife resources.
Two-thirds of the proposed Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area, or up to 100,000 acres, would be protected through conservation easements purchased from willing sellers. 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 would also purchase up to 50,000 acres outright from willing sellers to create the proposed national wildlife refuge where visitors could hunt, fish and view wildlife. The Service has identified six areas where these refuge lands could potentially be purchased. In some cases, the refuge acquisitions would augment existing conservation lands, such as state parks and wildlife management areas.
To read the full news release announcing the proposal, visit this link.
Details of the proposal, including maps, are in a Draft Land Protection Plan and Environmental Assessment that can be viewed at: