Cabinet approves conservation easements to protect land in Myakka, Peace River watersheds

A flooded forest in Myakka River State Park in Florida
'I am honored to have the opportunity to protect such an important part of our beautiful state.'

The Cabinet has approved two conservation easements backed by the Florida Conservation Group (FCG) and the state’s Florida Forever program.

The easements aim to protect more than 8,500 acres in the Myakka and Peace River watersheds.

One easement covers 5,934 acres on Deer Creek Ranch in DeSoto County, and the second covers 2,649 acres on Quail Creek Ranch in Hardee County.

“This region is so important to Florida’s conservation and water resource protection goals,” said Julie Morris, Executive Director of Florida Conservation Group. “The Department of Environmental Protection has obligated major funding and attention to these rivers, their wetland systems and the working lands that protect the watershed. We’re so grateful to have agency partners and landowners committed to this effort.”

The Cabinet approved the new easements Wednesday morning.

According to a news release from the group, Morris is helping to plan “a connected mosaic of working lands” in the region, which is aided by these easements.

Patrick Hill, the owner of Deer Creek Ranch, also praised the move Wednesday as a way to protect the nearby Peace River Valley.

“As a passionate agricultural landowner, cattleman and conservationist I am honored to have the opportunity to protect such an important part of our beautiful state,” Hill said.

“Being a native Floridian, I have seen many changes and the loss of huge swaths of native habitats in my lifetime. Florida’s indigenous and imperiled species rely on these natural habitats and corridors for their survival. As our state continues to become more developed, it is such a huge relief to know the Florida Forever program will ensure the native habitats and species remain protected on this land for perpetuity.”

Quail Creek Ranch, meanwhile, is located between the Myakka and Peace River watersheds.

FCG has worked for years to help protect agricultural land as part of the Florida Forever program and the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. The state has previously focused on this region, specifically Southwest Florida.

“FCG is extremely grateful for the visionary leadership of both the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,” Morris added.

“Their unwavering support for the protection of Florida’s natural and agricultural landscapes has been instrumental in the long-term preservation of Peace River Valley and all the benefits it contributes to our water, wildlife and food supply.”

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].


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