From among 2011’s many success stories, here are 10 of The Nature Conservancy’s favorites.
1. Florida black bear habitat protected
By purchasing 631 undeveloped acres, we protected critical black bear habitat in north Central Florida – forever. This new conservation area, located just west of the St. Johns River and named Hollywood Pines, helps maintain Florida’s single most important bear connector.
2. Support flows into the Northern Everglades
$100 million was allocated by the USDA for the purchase of conservation easements in the headwaters of the Greater Everglades, in large part due to Conservancy efforts. The federal government is also moving toward the establishment of an exciting, 150,000-acre wildlife refuge in the region.
3. Gulf sturgeon spawning habitat restored
The Conservancy led a team that restored the only known Yellow River spawning location for the Gulf sturgeon. It’s not only this 200 million-year-old fish that will benefit; a breached riverbank will no longer pollute the unspoiled Panhandle blackwater river with 60 tons of sediment each year.
4. Rare birds enjoy record season at Conservancy preserve
Two seriously imperiled birds enjoyed record breeding seasons at The Disney Wilderness Preserve. A tiny but thriving translocated red-cockaded woodpecker colony produced 10 fledglings, while 23 Florida scrub-jay fledglings were documented. All depend on carefully managed habitat at our flagship preserve.
5. Invasive species control moves to the mainland
After our early success with Python Patrol (established in the Keys to stop the invasion of the potentially devastating, non-native Burmese python) and with support from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Conservancy has expanded its reporting system, training of responders and hotline to include additional invasive animals and fish across South Florida.
6. Six new oyster reefs in Mosquito Lagoon
Six oyster reefs were restored in Canaveral National Seashore in 2011, exceeding expectations. A new “oyster grate” experiment was continued on two reefs as a possible alternative or supplement to the successful mat technique used for the last several years. Oyster reefs filter our water, stabilize eroding coastlines and offer a prime nursery habitat for fish, crab, shrimp and other critters.
7. Military base collaboration
At Avon Park Air Force Range, the Conservancy is finalizing conservation easements on lands that will both benefit nature and buffer the military mission from incompatible land uses. We’re also restoring native habitats at the base through fire and invasive species control.
8. Seagrass project completed along the Big Bend
Deep within St. Martin’s Marsh Aquatic Preserve, this 2-year project featured experiments to restore degraded seagrass habitat, as well as boater outreach and behavior monitoring. Results will help inform restoration of this critical and productive habitat all along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
9. Native habitats rejuvenated with fire
Our professional fire teams conducted controlled burns on 93,569 acres of natural lands statewide, including 51 different conservation sites, and helped control 21 wildfires at the request of our partners. Our total number of acres burned now exceeds a half-million!
10. Coral Reef News
The Conservancy hosted the “2nd Reef Resilience Conference”, the official workshop of the 26th U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Meeting in Ft. Lauderdale. More than 300 scientists and journalists from Florida and around the world attended this showcase for our Florida Reef Resilience Program, established to improve the health of Florida’s renowned coral reefs.
What’s next up in 2012?
Giving Florida panthers their space
Donors are needed right now to help assure the future of the Florida panther. To reach protected areas north of the Caloosahatchee River, these endangered, wide-roaming creatures depend upon a tract we call Panther Crossing. Together, we can help the panther survive.
Thank you for making it all possible! Will you help us continue this work with a generous year-end gift?