Nature Conservancy Executive Director Shelly Lakly today joined U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe in adding to the official roster the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area, a refuge the Conservancy helped make possible.
The ceremony was held at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, the nation’s first, where a commemorative boardwalk is made up of planks honoring the name of each of the country’s 561 wildlife refuges, wildlife management areas and conservation areas. The Conservancy donated land a year ago when the Everglades refuge was authorized that allowed the new protected area to be officially established.
The Conservancy has focused on protecting ranchlands in the Northern Everglades for more than 20 years and has helped numerous ranching families secure conservation easements while managing two conservation sites it owns there. No other acres have yet been added to the refuge, although $1.5 million has been allocated and agreements with landowners are under way.
“We appreciate Congress and the Administration recognizing the importance of working lands in awarding this first $1.5 million to purchase conservation easements on ranchlands in the Northern Everglades,” Lakly said. “We look forward to continuing our work with the USFWS as they look to expand protection here in this critical region, a priority both locally and globally for the Conservancy.”
Conservation easements are a cost effective way to protect wildlife habitat and water supplies while at the same time allowing ranchers to continue their business, manage the land and keep their family heritage alive.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
Media Relations Manager
The Nature Conservancy in Florida