The Ocala to Osceola Conservation Corridor (O2O) is a 1.6-million acre landscape of public and private lands that connect the Ocala and Osceola National Forests. The O2O includes priority lands for the Florida Ecological Greenways Network (FEGN), and is a significant part of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. If the system of natural landscapes and connector lands is protected, the O2O will continue to provide a habitat for Florida black bears and imperiled species like the red-cockaded woodpecker, indigo snake and gopher tortoise. In addition, there are opportunities for protecting iconic Florida ecosystems, including longleaf pine forests, sandhills, and scrub in the O2O.
What are we doing to conserve the O2O?
North Florida Land Trust (NFLT) is working with Camp Blanding to accelerate land conservation around the base to protect military training from incompatible land development, and protect imperiled species habitat. In addition, NFLT partnered with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to implement the Longleaf Pine and Gopher Tortoise Working Lands for Wildlife programs in the O2O. To this end, NFLT and the O2O Partnership received an $3.56 million allotment of Farm Bill funds for O2O land conservation, including land protection and improved conservation practices on private lands.
NFLT and O2O Partners successfully brought diverse funding sources to the table. Starting this year, we are reaching out to O2O landowners to protect critical lands and promote conservation management practices.
Our goal is to protect 140,000 acres in the O2O Conservation Corridor in the next 20 years. A network of connected conservation lands benefit wildlife and natural resources, as well as assure ecological resiliency as our environment changes and our population grows.
- Synergy of conservation programs: better coordination of conservation efforts among partner organizations including better landowner outreach and leveraging additional funding.
- Protection of wildlife habitat and natural resources: enhanced conservation will help > 16 endangered and threatened species and wide-ranging mammals such as the Florida Black Bear.
- Protection of working forestry: provide incentives for improved forest management for conservation and economic benefit
- Preserving existing water quality: Preservation and improvement of the lands within the corridor will improve water quality within the numerous watersheds of the O2O.
- Protect military mission and readiness: Increased land conservation in areas surrounding the military installation simultaneously protects natural resources and military training capacity.
What is the O2O Partnership?
The “Ocala to Osceola (O2O) Partnership” is a regionally unprecedented partnership of public agencies and private organizations working together toward a common goal – land conservation and protection of military mission in the O2O. North Florida Land Trust is leading this Partnership – other partners include:
- Florida Department of Protection
- Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
- St. Johns River and Suwannee River Water Management Districts
- Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, FloridaForest Service
- Florida Dept. Military Affairs, Camp Blanding Joint Training Center
- Department of Defense, U.S. Navy
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- U.S.D.A. Forest Service
- U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service
- Florida Trail Association
- Florida Wildlife Corridor
- Alachua Conservation Trust
- Putnam Land Conservancy
- North Florida Prescribed Burn Association