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Monday, January 10, 2011

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Conserve Working Lands and Wildlife Habitat in the Everglades Headwaters

The US Fish & Wildlife Service is planning to develop a new national wildlife refuge in the headwaters of Florida's Everglades.  The motivation for this refuge comes from a desire to protect the fish and wildlife of the Everglades while also conserving the local community's ranching heritage.

The size of the refuge and conservation area is planned to be 150,000 acres with 100,000 of those acres to be left in private ownership. A study is currently being done in the Kissimmee River Valley south of Orlando, FL.

“The Everglades rural working ranch landscapes are an important piece of our nation’s history and economy, and this initiative would work to ensure that they remain vital for our future,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in making this announcement.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson concurred with Seretary Salazar stating, "This is an important first step aimed at preserving and protecting thousands of acres vital to the Everglades." Adding, "Projects like this will ensure future generations will be able to benefit from and enjoy the River of Grass."

Dozens of partners have joined with the US Fish & Wildlife Service, including;  the Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services; Florida Department of Environmental Protection; Florida Division of State Lands; Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Osceola County Parks Division; South Florida Water Management District; National Wildlife Refuge Association; The Nature Conservancy; U.S. Air Force - Avon Park Air Force Range; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Natural Resource Conservation Service.

To read more about this proposed refuge sytem in southern Florida read the official press release:  http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/Salazar-Announces-Initiative-to-Conserve-Working-Lands-and-Wildlife-Habitat-in-the-Everglades-Headwaters.cfm