Thursday, May 22, 2008, 12:15-2:30pm
Developing an Optimal Boundary for Conservation Lands
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has developed a process for defining an optimal boundary for conservation lands that the agency manages that addresses local, regional, and ecosystem conservation needs, as well as on-site management issues. The process is designed to solicit input from FWC area, district, and regional biologists, as well as other natural resource professionals as appropriate. With this input FWC utilizes Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis of select conservation and biological resource data to produce a map and associated attribute data delineating the optimal boundary for each managed area. Implementing this process allows for comprehensive agency-wide input, promotes proactive, long-term conservation planning, acquisition and management, and closes conservation planning gaps with a resource-based approach.
Alachua County Forever - Tripling the Local Investment
Alachua County voters approved a $29 million local land conservation initiative in 2000. Since that time, Alachua County Forever has worked to protect over $63 million worth of property and use only $23 million of the local funds. Protected lands include working farms, ecological gems, urban green spaces, lakeshore and wet prairie as well as sand hill. Partners include Federal Farm and Ranchland Protection and Forest Legacy Programs, State Florida Communities Trust and Florida Forever Programs, State Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Regional Water Management Districts, municipalities, private land trusts and conservation-minded individuals.
The proposed poster will locate the properties preserved in Alachua County, credit the partners, provide some facts about each of the sites and the partnerships, and include photographs representative of each tract.
Natural Resource Conservation on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
The 45th Space Wing (45SW) of the United States Air Force (USAF) operates the world's premier space launch complex, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), on a barrier island that parallels the central east coast of Florida. The majority of this 15,800 acre military installation, approximately 9,000 acres, remains in a near natural undeveloped condition. Within these undeveloped lands the Florida Natural Areas Inventory has identified eleven different plant communities that provide habitat for 180 species of resident and migratory birds and numerous other wildlife including eleven federally listed threatened and endangered species. Consequently, 45SW biologists have developed a very aggressive natural resource management program that protects and conserves wildlife and habitats while sustaining military readiness and supporting the overall Department of Defense (DoD) mission on CCAFS. Many of the conservation initiatives implemented on CCAFS are above and beyond standard natural resource management practices utilized at other locations. The 45SW remains at the forefront of conservation by developing new management techniques, conducting comprehensive demographic and monitoring studies, and partnering with various other agencies, universities and individuals to conduct research in a secure environment that will provide new management techniques not only for use on CCAFS but to be shared with other land managers struggling with funding, implementation and/or manpower constraints. The 45SW and the USAF remain committed to the conservation of all natural resources occurring on our lands and believe sharing this knowledge is in the best interest of all wildlife conservation.
Conserving Vital Habitat and Wildlife Lands Using Connective Landscape Scale Strategies in Osceola County
Florida's land conservation initiatives face unique challenges in the 21st century. The unprecedented population migration in to Florida and the pressures of real estate development and shrinking financial resources for acquisition and preservation have lead to alliances from public and private entities ranging from grass-roots organizations to large state and national agencies in order to protect our unique resources. The convergence of these efforts to protect resources on a landscape scale in the central and south-central regions of the state is exemplified by the Osceola Pines Savannas.
Originally established in 1994, the Osceola Pines Savannas a Florida Forever project is focused on conserving open range lands such as pastures, pine flatwoods, and palmetto prairies. The project stretches for more than 30 miles from the waters of Bull Creek, a tributary of the St. John's River, to the upper reaches of Lake Kissimmee, headwaters of the Kissimmee River. The project is contained within Osceola County and maintains a link between conservation lands including the Bull Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and Three Lakes WMA. Triple N Ranch WMA and the Crescent J Ranch, Alan Broussard Conservancy Forever Florida lands are within the project boundary and provide connectivity helping to ensure the survival of wildlife and habitat. Beyond the boundary of the project are lands and projects that compliment and expand the landscape mosaic of the Osceola Pines Savannas including the Big Bend Swamp/Holopaw Ranch, the Holopaw State Forest, and the Ranch Reserve Florida Forever Project. This poster will highlight various acquisition projects across the Osceola Pine Savannas in order to conserve vital wildlife lands.
Scrub Working Groups
As of April 3, 2007, nearly the entire Florida peninsula is encompassed by working groups either specifically for scrub or with a broader focus. These groups foster cooperation between members of organizations including, but not limited to county governments, conservation groups, research facilities, Water Management Districts, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, universities, the Florida Natural Areas Inventory, State Parks, State Forests, National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, the working groups include private businesses, consultants, and non-profit organizations.
One of the main objectives of these working groups is to decrease the amount of overgrown scrub in Florida. The Florida scrub-jay is often used as an umbrella species for scrub management because management for scrub-jays benefits the majority of scrub species.
A Scrub-Jay Website formed in conjunction with these working groups contains information about each group's activities, as well as other scrub and scrub-jay information.
This poster presents a summary of various activities of the working groups, including a map, contact information, some of the groups. major accomplishments, and potential future projects.
Creating a Conservation Cooperative among Private Landowners and Land Managers in North Central Florida
A majority of wildlife habitat in Florida is found on private lands, requiring focused effort by land managers, governmental agencies, wildlife biologists and environmental interest groups to help private landowners conserve this important resource. Technical assistance, cost-share programs, and educational materials are available; however many landowners find habitat management cost-prohibitive, time-consuming, confusing, and challenging due to limited resources. To address these challenges, wildlife biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Landowner Assistance Program offer guidance and assistance to private landowners for habitat management on their properties. One-on-one exchanges with landowners have proven successful for conserving habitat on some private lands, but other strategies are necessary for landscape-level habitat conservation. To reach more landowners, FWC has held several educational workshops focusing on landowners in the Watermelon Pond region, a 28,000-acre area of critical sandhill habitat in North Central Florida. To further the effort, FWC biologists and area landowners have begun formation of a conservation cooperative with the goal of facilitating communication and collaboration on habitat management issues among private landowners, public land managers, and other agency personnel. Through this landowner-driven effort, practices such as tool and equipment sharing, cooperative work days, organizing future workshops, and establishing a newsletter or website to dispense information regarding land management are planned. The desired result is an increase in wildlife habitat quantity, quality, and connectivity. Though in its beginning stages, a successful conservation cooperative in this area may serve as a model for future cooperatives in other parts of Florida.
Think Locally, Act Neighborly: Managing Invasive Species Across Boundaries in Florida
Invasive species know no boundaries and continue to degrade Florida's declining habitats. If landowners and land managers wish to achieve long term success, it is critical for them to reach out and collaborate with all stakeholders, including private landowners. The Florida Invasive Species Partnerships (FISP), originally formed in 2006 under the Invasive Species Working Group as the Private Land Incentive Sub-working Group, is striving to focus statewide efforts on prevention as well as treatment. By working together, we hope to encourage development of innovative management approaches, provide new tools, decrease implementation costs, and ultimately increase effectiveness. During 2006 and 2007, FISP developed the dynamic .Incentive Program Matrix. of existing federal, state and local funding sources, incentive programs and technical assistance for private landowners in Florida. The interactive matrix database will allow both private and public land managers to determine what current technical and financial assistance is available to best suit their specific needs and coordinate control efforts across boundaries. In 2007, FISP began promoting the concept of Cooperative Weed Management Areas in Florida. The goal of this effort is to encourage development of local partnerships between federal, state, and local government agencies, tribes, individuals and various interested groups to manage noxious weeds or invasive plants in a defined area. To date, there are 10 CWMAs across Florida from Walton County to the Florida Key's Invasive Task Force. The Incentive Program Matrix and locally led CWMAs allow us to expand invasive species management efforts across the landscape and build community awareness.
Development of a Wildlife Conservation Planning Tool for Florida
The Habitat Conservation Scientific Services Section of the Division of Habitat and Species Conservation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is developing an innovative planning tool to address wildlife conservation as a priority in Florida. This resource will be comprised of recommended guidelines and current requirements in the form of an interactive, web-based manual. Because many resource publications can only be found piecemeal, developers, regulatory agencies, environmental consultants and land managers must complete an exhaustive search for information. In this current scenario, some species are overlooked or habitat management is applied to a single species rather than a multi-species approach.
The FWC is partnering with Florida Natural Areas Inventory, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and various regulatory agencies, environmental consultants and landowners to develop a planning tool, in which all the information from project initiation to perpetual habitat management is included in a single resource. The information will include literature and database hyperlinks, guidelines for habitat mapping and initial site assessments, survey protocols for protected wildlife species, best management practices for a multi-species approach, and conservation design options for development projects. This application is intended to provide guidelines for persons who are requesting or reviewing a permit application for a development project where wildlife may be adversely impacted or users who are planning to conserve an area with wildlife conservation as a priority. The end product will be an interactive web-based planning tool that can be accessed online and downloaded.
Florida Bird Conservation Initiative
Within the last two decades, bird conservation has advanced through numerous national and regional partnership-based bird conservation initiatives such as Partners in Flight (PIF), the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI), and Joint Ventures. Each of these initiatives produces landscape-oriented conservation plans for native birds that establish population goals and habitat objectives. Although Florida has been an active participant in the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture, and benefited by its involvement, Florida's participation in other conservation initiatives has been limited. All bird conservation is a high priority for Florida given the diversity of species in the state and the intrinsic value birds bring to Floridians and visitors alike.
The Florida Bird Conservation Initiative was formed as a voluntary public-private partnership that seeks to promote the sustainability of native Florida birds and their habitats through coordinated efforts that strategically address critical needs related to conservation planning, delivery of conservation programs, research and monitoring, education and outreach, and public policy. Our current partners include several federal and state agencies as well as nonprofit and private organizations. We will continue to grow and encourage involvement from individuals or organizations interested in participating meaningfully in bird conservation issues.
The Florida Bird Conservation Initiative will achieve the following goals: 1) keep common birds common, 2) promote conservation and restoration of endangered, threatened, and vulnerable bird species and their habitats, and 3) promote a more strategic approach for addressing bird conservation in Florida that considers and is integrated with other local, state, national, and international efforts.