The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is working with private landowners throughout the state to help provide better habitat for Florida’s native fish and wildlife. At its Feb. 11 meeting, FWC staff provided the Commission with an update on efforts to foster conservation partnerships with private landowners to benefit Florida’s natural resources.
As part of the effort, the FWC contracted with the University of Florida to conduct a survey of private landowners across Florida to gather valuable information about their land management practices. Using this information, the FWC created several goals to help private landowners.
In order to attain better communication, the FWC has partnered with the Florida Forest Service, the University of Florida, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to form the Florida Land Steward Partnership. The goal for this partnership is to create a one-stop shop for private landowners interested in technical or financial assistance programs. Visit the website at FloridaLandSteward.org.
The FWC also recognizes the need for economic support and recognition for landowners who are willing to manage their property in ways that provide habitat for fish and wildlife. In order to address this need, the FWC is working with a growing number of public and private partners to develop new and improved incentive programs.
FWC staff are also working closely with staff from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to administer a new voluntary Wildlife Best Management Practices for landowners engaged in forestry or agricultural activities. During the first year, nearly 2.5 million acres have been enrolled in this program.
In the survey, landowners expressed interest in receiving technical information in new ways. To address this, the FWC has created short videos and technical information fact sheets for landowners to use. These tools highlight important information about a particular management activity or strategy and identify where the reader can obtain more detailed information.
“Private landowners have told us what they want and we are listening. We’re creating resources and tools to help them manage their properties,” said FWC Chairman Brian Yablonski. “We want private landowners to view wildlife as an asset, not a liability.”
To learn more about private land partnerships and the FWC’s Landowner Assistance Program visit MyFlorida.com/lap.