«

»

Private Landowners Aiding in Protection of Everglades

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program brings together the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and private landowners to create public private partnerships for the benefit of wildlife conservation. A key example of this is happening in the Florida Everglades Headwaters.

President Obama recently visited the Everglades to speak about climate change and how important this special ecosystem is.

Florida Grasshopper Sparrow | Mary Peterson, USFWS
Florida Grasshopper Sparrow | Mary Peterson, USFWS

There is a long history of private landowners in the area sing the lands for cattle ranching. Florida panthers and other endangered species also call this region home. Thankfully, the ranchers understand the value of conserving important habitat and are taking action to do just that by voluntarily applying for fee-title acquisition or conservation easements in the Everglades Headwaters area.

The endangered Florida grasshopper sparrow is one species that has greatly benefited from these public private partnerships.

David “Lefty” Durando is one specific landowner who has been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to manage his land to ensure the protection of the Florida grasshopper sparrow. Durando has been working with the Service to restore native dry-prairie habitat for the Florida grasshopper sparrow on his 12,000 acre Okeechobee Ranch. Secretary of the Interior , Sally Jewell visited the Durando Ranch in January of 2014 to see the great work that is happening there and show her support for Everglades conservation.

Secretary Sally Jewell with Bud Adams, Lefty Durando, David Houghton, and LeAnn Adams (from left to right) | Vince Lamb
Secretary Sally Jewell with Bud Adams, Lefty Durando, David Houghton, and LeAnn Adams (from left to right) | Vince Lamb

This specific habitat type, native dry-prairie, has been reduced to less than 15 percent within its historic range – 75 percent of that is found on private land. The Florida grasshopper sparrow requires this habitat; today, only two small viable populations are known to exist – as of 2011, there are less than 150 birds in the wild. Restoring this critical habitat on both private and public lands is seen as the best strategy to increase the endangered bird’s viability.

The Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area was established in 2012 to further protect this important habitat. The refuge currently consists of 450 acres but has the potential to be 150,000 acres.

The main focus of the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area Initiative is to purchase conservation easements on ranching and agricultural land. The easements will both protect important habitat for endangered species like the Florida grasshopper sparrow, but also keep working lands working to protect the Florida ranching way of life.

The Service is educating other landowners about Florida grasshopper sparrow habitat needs. The Service educates the landowners about different management techniques to enhance the habitat for the endangered bird.

Click here to read the full story on Refuge Update.

 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.refugeassociation.org/2015/04/private-landowners-aiding-in-protection-of-everglades/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>