earn credits
Tuesday, May 20

Concurrent Field Trips (included)

  • Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
  • Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area


Welcome Reception (included)

Wednesday, May 21
Light Breakfast with Exhibitors (included)


Conference Facilitator: Gary Cochran, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
(FWC), Division of Habitat and Species Conservation (HSC) and OWLS President

Ken Haddad, Executive Director, FWC(2.7M)
Florida House Representative Anthony P. Sasso III


Statewide Conservation Planning Opportunities and Obstacles

Session Objective: Introduce some of Florida’s conservation planning initiatives, program accomplishments, and obstacles overcome in the effort to address perceived 21st century wildlife heritage conservation needs.

Moderator: Tom Hoctor, GeoPlan Center at /University of Florida
  • Critical Lands/Waters Identification Project (CLIP) and Cooperative Conservation Blueprint Team Approach
    • Jon Oetting, Florida Natural Areas Inventory(4.9M)
    • Christine Small, FWC, HSC(1.5M)
  • 1000 Friends of Florida Conservation Manual
    • Dan Pennington, 1000 Friends of Florida(2.1M)
  • Wildlife Conservation Prioritization and Recovery (WCPR)
Sustaining Florida’s wildlife heritage in the 21st century will require concerted efforts among state and federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, local governments, private landowners, and others for strategic habitat and species conservation planning and strategies. This planning can help guide decision makers when shaping Florida’s future in order to facilitate successful outcomes and attempts to achieve long-term sustainability for the state’s resources. This session will showcase some of the statewide planning initiatives and opportunities as well as illustrate some hurdles to overcome in the planning process.

Refreshment Break with Exhibitors


Critical Issues Affecting Wildlife Lands

Session Objective: Present some of the difficulties encountered in acquiring and managing lands for Florida’s diverse wildlife species, as well as providing some specific examples of properly securing and managing their habitats.

Moderator: Hilary Swain, Archbold Biological Station

  • Integrating Effective Acquisition and Management of Florida's Unique Ecosystem Projects
    • Richard Hilsenbeck, The Nature Conservancy(23.4M)
  • Protection of Wildlife Lands Through Easements
    • Eric Sutton, Southwest Florida Water Management District
  • Addressing Highway Impacts on Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat Resources
    • Terry Gilbert, URS Corporation(5.8M)
  • Integrating Acquisition and Management for Swallow-Tailed Kites
    • Ken Meyer, Avian Research and Conservation Institute(6.0M)
  • Challenges of Managing Florida's Unique Scrub Habitat
    • Boyd Blihovde, US Fish and Wildlife Service

There are numerous critical issues facing Florida’s wildlife lands. Acquiring land is an initial and essential first step, and Florida has protected more than one million acres for species and their habitats by this means. Following acquisition, management has proven to be a challenge in some unique ecosystem projects such as scrub habitats scattered among lands with diverse ownerships and interspersed with rapidly developing lands. Also, assuring effective acquisition and management for species with small and widely distributed populations can be difficult. Additionally, with Florida’s fast-paced development, there are increased habitat fragmentation issues. As habitat is lost to development and wildlife lands are fragmented during provision of infrastructure, it will be important to look for ways to address these challenges.

Population growth and development are making it increasingly more difficult to effectively carryout traditional land management practices such as prescribed burning. Another threat to Florida’s wildlife lands is the invasion of nonindigenous plants and animals. Looking to the future, what can scientists, resource managers, agricultural officials, individuals, organizations, or businesses do to improve land managers’ ability to efficiently and effectively overcome management obstacles such as these and assure the long-term welfare of wildlife species under their care?

Lunch (included)


Critical Issues Affecting Wildlife Lands Continued...

Moderator: Mike Allen, FWC HSC

  • Prescribed Fire in Ever Expanding Wildland Urban Interface
    • Lane Green, Tall Timbers Research Station(1.0M)
  • Florida's Invasive Species  (fauna and flora)
    • Scott Hardin, FWC HSC  (5.2M)
    • Greg Jubinsky, DEP, Division of State Lands (DSL)(4.2M)


Successes and Challenges in Implementation of Florida Priority Efforts and Programs

Session Objective: Share information on some of Florida’s programs designed to address the challenges of assuring viable, functioning ecosystems that will support vibrant wildlife communities in Florida for the long-term.

Moderator: Mark Glisson, Mark W. Glisson and Associates

  • Environmental and Endangered Lands Program, Brevard County
    • Mike Knight, Brevard County (1.2M)
  • Land Acquisition Strategy for the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration
    • Jim Muller, Muller and Associates(1.2M)
  • Florida's National Estuarine Research Reserves
    • Seth Blitch, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas(3.0M)

In Florida, there are a number of large and ongoing vital programs to acquire, protect, and restore natural habitats of the State including the world's largest conservation land buying program, Florida Forever; the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and program, one of the world's largest environmental restoration projects; and our state's three designated National Estuarine Research Reserves, more than any other state in the nation. Additionally, Florida has its Florida's Wildlife Legacy Initiative Program and has completed and is implementing its Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. This session will highlight some of the successes, challenges, and strategies for implementation of these important programs for sustaining wildlife in the 21st century.

Refreshment Break with Exhibitors


Successes and Challenges in Implementation of Florida Priority Efforts and Programs Continued...

Moderator: Mark Glisson, Mark W. Glisson and Associates

  • Upland Ecosystem Restoration
    • Stefanie Nagid, FWC HSC
  • Florida's Wildlife Legacy Initiative
  • Florida Forever
    • Marianne Gengenbach, DEP, DSL(2.4M)

Dinner and Entertainment by Caribbean Crew -  Poolside (included)

Thursday, May 22
Light Breakfast with Exhibitors (included)


Mayor "Skip" Beeler, City of Cocoa Beach(3.2M)


Partnering for Habitat Conservation

Session Objective: Examine some opportunities for partnership development as a way to accomplish wildlife conservation within an environment of limited resources, whether on private or public lands.

Moderator: Hugh Boyter, Conservation Planning, LLC

  • The Power of Partnerships: Working Across Boundaries
    • Erin Myers, USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service
    • Layne Hamilton, US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Florida Panther and Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge
    • Kathy O'Reilly-Doyle, FWS, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program(5.8M)
  • Private Land Stewardship Programs for Endangered Species
    • Keith Bradley, Institute for Regional Conservation (IRC) FWS Private Stewardship Grant Program(10.4M)
  • Reducing Threats to Priority Habitats on Private Lands
  • Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund
    • Lucinda Ochoada, FWS, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program(3.6M)

It is estimated that over 70% of our Nation’s land is privately owned and that the majority of our fish and wildlife resources occur on those lands. Furthermore, public land management programs are increasingly under threat of budget reduction and the manpower and resources necessary to acquire and manage wildlife habitats must increasingly be done by means of partnerships. Therefore, it is essential to create cooperative conservation programs to enhance, protect, and maintain habitats on both publicly and privately owned lands.

Florida has a number of private land stewardship programs, as well as some successful partnerships that have been developed to address needs on public lands. In addition to partnering and funding available for species and habitat protection on privately owned lands, the USFWS has grant programs available, which support land acquisition and management for wildlife. This form of partnership development also provides additional funding and protection for wildlife and habitats.

Refreshment Break with Exhibitors


Partnering for Land Acquisition: Interagency, Regional, & Local Partnerships

Session Objective: Engage in a panel discussion regarding Florida’s experience with conservation partnerships and their importance to accomplishment of the state’s strategic conservation goals. Conference participants will be asked to participate!

Moderator: Ramesh Buch, Alachua County

    Panel Discussion: Interagency, Regional, and Local Partnerships

  • Will Abberger, Trust for Public Land
  • Albert Joerger, Sarasota Conservation Association(686K)
  • Keith Fountain, The Nature Conservancy
  • Matthew Sexton, The Conservation Fund(782K)
Across varying habitat landscapes and levels of partnerships, how are we to establish a stronger foundation and a link between efforts and common goals to face the challenges of acquiring and protecting wildlife lands? Experts will highlight efforts to protect wildlife habitat and to achieve long-term conservation goals. Each will address a particular challenge, a practical experience, and an example of a partnership which helps to increase synergy among local, regional, statewide, and national programs and partnerships. Following brief presentations, conference participants will be asked to join a moderated discussion.


Recreational Experiences: Partnerships That Successfully Create Human-Nature Connections
Jerrie Lindsey, FWC, Office of Recreation Services(1.3M)

Examples of recreational and other experiences that create value, understanding, and support for wildlife lands

Identifying Opportunities: Partnership Development with the Florida Wildlife Legacy Initiative
Doug Parsons, FWC, HSC(870K)

A review and presentation on partnerships to implement the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy in order to address critical conservation threats such as climate change and habitat loss.


Poster Session

  • Dave Alden "Developing an Optimal Boundary for Conservation Lands"
  • Ramesh Buch "Tripling the Local Investment"
  • Donald George "Natural Resource Conservation on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station"
  • Bruce Greer "Conserving Vital Habitat and Wildlife Lands Using Connective
    Landscape Scale Strategies in Osceola County"
  • Adam Kent "Scrub Working Groups"
  • Kate Leonard "Creating a Conservation Cooperative among Private Landowners and Land Managers in North Central Florida"
  • Erin Myers "Think Locally, Act Neighborly: Managing Invasive Species Across Boundaries in Florida"
  • Stephanie Rousso "Development of a Wildlife Conservation Planning Tool for Florida"
  • Elena Sachs "Florida Bird Conservation Initiative"

Book Signing "Priceless Florida" by Bruce Means, Ph.D.

Cash Lunch


OWLS Business Meeting


Sea Turtle Nesting Excursion (tentative)

Friday, May 23

Visit Beautiful Cocoa Beach On Your Own!  Brochures on bicycling, kayaking, Kennedy Space Center tours, and other activities will be available at the conference registration desk.