TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — On Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet invested more than $56 million to purchase property across the state for conservation. The seven parcels of land total nearly 20,000 acres.
The land lies within the Florida Wildlife Corridor, a network of land connected to crucial wildlife habitats and protected through the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act, signed into law last year.
The law preserves a path of green, wild land from the Okefenokee Swamp in the north to the Everglades in the south, providing access for roaming wildlife, including the endangered Florida panther.
“Acquiring lands for conservation and recreation is a top priority for my administration,” said Governor DeSantis. “Conservation of these key properties will forever benefit water quality, rare wildlife habitats and corridor linkages, and support Florida’s ever-growing economy.”
The projects, managed by the Department of Environmental Protection, will preserve Florida’s natural landscapes for future generations while protecting imperiled species throughout the Corridor.
The acquisitions include:
768 acres within the Wolfe Creek - Florida Forever Project in Santa Rosa County. An ongoing strategic partnership between federal, state, local, and private entities.
A 376-acre property within the St. Joe Timberland - Florida Forever Project in Franklin County. The Florida Forest Service will manage the property as an addition to Tate’s Hell State Forest.
A conservation easement of 11,958 acres within the Horse Creek Ranch - Florida Forever Project in DeSoto and Hardee counties. The Southwest Florida Water Management District will conserve the easement.
Conservation easements of 3,634 and 615 acres within the Kissimmee-St. Johns River Connector - Florida Forever Project, creating habitat and hydrological connections in Okeechobee County.
A conservation easement of 1,882 acres within the Fisheating Creek Ecosystem - Florida Forever Project in Highlands County. The Florida Forest Service’s Rural and Family Lands Protection Program will manage the property.
A final conservation easement covering 663 acres within the Lake Wales Ridge - Florida Forever Project in Highlands County. The Florida Forest Service’s Rural and Family Lands Protection Program will manage the property.
The Governor’s Freedom First Budget will invest a record $3.3 Billion into the environment over the next four years including: a record $1.2 billion in everglades restoration and water resources; $558 million for targeted water quality improvements; $500 million on everglades restoration; $75 million for florida's world-renowned springs; and $35 million to prevent and fight blue-green algae and red tide. The plan also includes $500 million in a resilient florida grant program to enhance coastal resilience and a $264 million record investment in florida state parks for fiscal year 2022-2023.