Over 20,000 acres were recently set aside to grow Florida’s Wildlife Corridor.
Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet approved over $46 million in mid-March to allow for the expansion of five different preserved areas.
One of the areas that’s growing is the Wolfe Creek Forest and Blackwater River State Forest near Pensacola, which will receive just over 1,500 acres. Environmental leaders who advocated for the area’s expansion, and volunteers associated with the forests, said this effort will benefit wildlife and people.
Douglas Hattaway is the senior project manager for Trust for Public Land. He said the nonprofit has been working to secure this recent expansion for over a year.
“Our mission, in short, is connecting land and people,” Hattaway said. “And so this acquisition will add to the state forest — enhancing and expanding the convenient access people will have to outdoor recreational activities.”
Hattaway said the property’s addition to the Florida Wildlife Corridor will also help protect some of Florida’s vulnerable species.
“It’s important that the critters are not isolated in an island that’s surrounded by development and there’s nowhere to go,” Hattaway said. “They’re stuck.”
Volunteers like Don Ravinski, who maintain trails in Blackwater River State Forest, have witnessed firsthand the significance of preserving more land.
“I have seen, near our trails, tremendous explosion of growth and building and houses and roads encroaching close to where we do have our trails,” Ravinski said.
Ravinski said anytime land can be preserved, “it’s a good thing. Always.”