State approves funding to protect 32,000 acres of land, some in SWFL

The state of Florida recently approved funding to protect 32,000 acres of land. Two of those newly protected lands are in Southwest Florida — Tippen Bay Ranch and Devil’s Garden. This is thanks to the Florida Forever Program.

“Florida Forever program, if you’re unaware of it, is the country’s premiere land-buying, land conservation program,” said Beth Alvi, Director of Policy for Audubon Florida. “The legislature appropriates these funds towards these land-buying programs as well as land management…”

Some might ask why it’s important to protect these habitats. Alvi said, “They’re important in terms of preparing for climate change and a host of other issues, and so it is a really important program to the state.”

“Devil’s Garden acquisition is particularly important for that area, it is,” Alvi added. “It provides important connectivity for the habitat full of panthers, for healthy wetlands and it’s strategic in that it’s connected to a lot of other conservation areas in that particular area.”

So what exactly are the funds used for?

“This money is spent wisely as you can see by the extremely wonderful projects scattered all across the state that were put forth before the governor and cabinet and were approved for purchase,” Alvi said. “And they help preserve our ecosystems, our critical natural areas, they help preserve healthy wetlands, they provide habitat for wildlife and birds.”

Since the program began in 2001, the state of Florida has purchased more than 800,000 acres of land. All in effort to keep the state beautiful, forever.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Drew Hill
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