April 30, 2021

The legislation would provide $300 million to protect the critical wildlife migration corridor and $100 million to fund the Florida Forever Program

North Florida Land Trust congratulates the Florida House and Senate for unanimously passing the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act. Legislators approved bills designed to preserve and protect wildlife habitat, water quality, farms, forests, and coastal estuaries. If the legislators agree to the budget and Governor Ron DeSantis signs it into law, $300 million will be dedicated to preserving the migratory routes within the Florida Wildlife Corridor and $100 million will fund Florida Forever, the state’s land conservation program.

“This is such a huge opportunity for conservation in the state, especially within the O2O wildlife corridor where we lead a partnership of organizations dedicated to conservation and land management,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “We are thankful for this unanimous bipartisan support and particularly would like to thank State Senator Jason Brodeur and all members of the First Coast Legislative Delegation who were instrumental in this process.”

NFLT leads the effort to conserve the Ocala to Osceola (O2O) Wildlife Corridor, a critical component of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. The O2O is comprised of public and private organizations dedicated to conservation and land management within the 100-mile landscape that connects the Ocala and Osceola National Forests. McCarthy said the nonprofit looks forward to continuing to work closely with its partners including Florida DEP’s Division of State Lands, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Camp Blanding, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, U.S. Forest Service, county governments, and all of the other partners to continue to conserve lands within this area.

NFLT is currently working to preserve 541 acres in Marion County known as Big Pine Preserve. The land was recently added to the Longleaf Pine Ecosystems Florida Forever project area making it eligible for funding through the Florida Forever program in 2022. The nonprofit land conservation organization is also working with private timberland company Weyerhaeuser on a possible sale of a conservation easement on 50,000 acres of timberland within the O2O.

The Florida Wildlife Corridor includes more than 18 million acres of land, 8 million of which remain unprotected. In addition to funding conservation efforts and protecting the critical wildlife corridor, the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act will connect land needed for flood and sea-level rise resiliency and will protect areas that provide vital drinking water sources for most Floridians. If signed by Governor DeSantis, the law would go into effect on July 1.

About North Florida Land Trust

North Florida Land Trust is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to protect the natural resources, historic places and working lands (farms and ranches) throughout north Florida. Founded in 1999, NFLT has preserved tens of thousands of acres of land through donation or purchase of land as well as conservation easements.  NFLT is funded largely by private and corporate contributions and works closely with willing landowners and public agencies at all levels of government, not-for-profit partners, and foundations.