Florida Cabinet approves over 35,000 acres of conservation lands

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Florida Wildlife Corridor
Properties in nine Florida counties will be added to the Florida Wildlife Corridor. Photo by Carlton Ward Jr / CarltonWard.com. Used by WMNF with permission

The Florida Wildlife Corridor will continue to grow by thousands of acres, following approval by the Florida Cabinet on Tuesday.

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The newly-approved conservation lands in nine Florida counties will allow conservation and agriculture projects to coexist.

Christie Utt is with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. During the Cabinet meeting, she said approving the conservation projects will in turn preserve operations on family-owned ranchlands.

“Items 13 through 21 are agricultural conservation easements for projects that meet the objectives of the program to prevent the conversion of agricultural land,” Utt said, “so that working farms can continue to produce food and fiber, and to protect water.”

Commissioner Wilton Simpson is with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. A press release from his office says the conservation easements are the most land acquisitions ever approved for the program at a Cabinet meeting. 

One of the approved areas is the Keen Family Ranch, which includes Horse Creek. The tributary aids in supplying drinking water to more than one million people in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties, according to the Florida Conservation Group.

The same property also supports habitat for species such as the bald eagle and sandhill crane. 

According to the Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation, over 120,000 acres have been approved for conservation since the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act was passed in 2021.

The ranchlands most-recently approved for conservation will add yet another significant contribution to the project that has been dubbed Florida’s “Central Park.”

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