Our focus is the conservation of Florida’s ranchlands and other working lands. We advocate, educate, and act as a resource on land protection and other conservation programs for protecting our wildlife and water. We are comprised of ranchers, conservation and policy experts, and scientists to ensure science-based land protection. The protection of Florida’s ranchlands and other working lands are vital to Florida achieving its conservation goals.
Myakka’s Jim Strickland named Sustainable Rancher of the Year by Audubon Florida.
By Pam Eubanks, Senior Editor, YourObserver.com
Wearing his cowboy hat, cattle rancher Jim Strickland rolled through pastureland on the 4,500-acre Blackbeard’s Ranch in eastern Manatee County in his pickup truck.He nodded toward the window. About 50 feet away, deer walked along the tree line, barely noticing the truck had stopped. On the other side of a fence, another deer bounded across the open field.
“Look at that,” he said, smiling. “A good cattle ranch is conducive to a great wildlife base.”
Strickland said the property is also home to panthers, gopher tortoises and up to 170 species of birds. The variety of grasses, plants and wetlands work together to create a diverse, food-rich environment.
Strickland, a lifelong Manatee County resident and managing partner of Blackbeard’s Ranch, is working to preserve nature. In 2018, the National Resources Conservation Service, an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, purchased a “wetland reserve easement” on about one-third of the Blackbeard property for $3.9 million. It guarantees the land will be saved from development.
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Ranchlands in southern Florida: A Low-Intensity Land Use.
Cow-calf operations in southern Florida are what we call a ‘low-intensity land use’. Florida’s ranchlands protect a vast amount of native habitat that is critical to the viability of many of our listed wildlife species. Ranchlands hold and filter water; the more we conserve these lands it negates the need to provide engineering ‘fixes’ down the road. After conservation lands, cattle ranches are the land use with the greatest environmental value in southern Florida. Ranchlands play a significant environmental role in the southern peninsula. The mix of upland and wetland habitats on ranches can sustain virtually all the native wildlife...