MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet approved an investment of over $46.6 million to conserve five properties across the state — over 21,000 acres in total.
Out of the five properties, four of them are in the Florida Wildlife Corridor, which is a network of connected lands and waters that sustain the state's best wild places and protect over 700 species, the governor's office said in a news release.
“Good stewardship of Florida's natural resources by conserving natural lands for future generations is a top priority for our administration,” DeSantis said in a statement. “This action will protect our water resources, enhance wildlife and habitat connections, and provide additional public recreation opportunities for our residents and visitors.”
In the Tampa Bay area, more than 1,600 acres were acquired within the Myakka Ranchlands Florida Forever project in Manatee County and over 1,200 acres within the Blue Head Ranch Florida Forever project in Highlands County, both of which are within the Florida Wildlife Corridor, the news release mentioned.
The Myakka Ranchlands Florida Forever project provides habitat for the crested caracara, Florida burrowing owl, gopher tortoise, Florida sandhill crane, southeastern American kestrel, Eastern indigo snake, Florida black bear and Florida panther, while the Blue Head Ranch Florida Forever project ensures environmental and hydrological health of the Florida Everglades ecosystem and enhances the habitat of many rare and imperiled species.
The most area acquired by a county was over 12,000 in Liberty County. Other areas included in the investment are in Santa Rosa and Osceola counties.
“These approvals mark a crucial moment in permanently protecting and creating a landscape corridor, providing safe habitat for wide-ranging and sensitive species,” Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Shawn Hamilton said in a statement. “We want to thank Governor DeSantis and the Cabinet for the continued support of the Florida Forever program and the Florida Wildlife Corridor.”
To learn more about the latest investment in the efforts for the state's conservation, click here.