Florida Conservation Group Awarded Over $1.1 Million in Grants to Protect Working Lands

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Funding Boosts Best Practices for Prescribed Grazing and Burning with Positive Impacts on Soil Health, Water Quality, and Wildlife Habitat

Myakka City, FL — The Florida Conservation Group (FCG) has been awarded over $1.1 million in funding through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to improve water quality by managing ranchlands in Central and South Florida.

Funding will be used by FCG and their partner, Common Ground Ecology to provide technical assistance to Florida’s ranchers to develop plans that utilize best management practices for prescribed grazing and burning. Improving cattle and land management through prescribed fire and rotational grazing decreases soil compaction and nutrient run-off, and encourages native vegetation retention and wildlife habitat, ultimately improving the quality and quantity of surface water.

“Natural and agricultural lands serve as natural buffers that store and treat water, preventing pollutants from reaching major water bodies,” said Julie Morris, director of the Florida Conservation Group (FCG). “By strategically protecting land in key areas, we can improve water quality and minimize runoff, ensuring the long-term health of our ecosystems.”

NFWF announced $2.4 million in grants to eight recipients to restore and enhance aquatic habitats to improve populations of imperiled native freshwater aquatic species in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. The grants will leverage $1.8 million in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of $4.2 million.

The grants were awarded through the Southeast Aquatics Fund, a competitive grant program and public-private partnership with funding provided this year by six different funders, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Cargill, Nestlé and Southern Company.

“Florida’s unique aquatic biodiversity and delicate water quality is benefiting from collaborative projects like this one, led by NFWF,” noted Morris. “These initiatives involving diverse conservation strategies and public-private partnerships aim to safeguard the Southeast’s aquatic habitats, recover endangered species, and improve water quality, all while balancing the needs of working lands and communities. FCG is grateful for the leadership of NFWF and the collaboration of its partners.”

About FCG
FCG is committed to conserving Florida’s natural landscape, wildlife, food and water, while maintaining working agricultural lands that are essential to the state’s economy and national security. Comprised of scientists, ranchers and conservation and policy experts, FCG advocates for full funding for state land protection programs, including the Rural and Family Lands Program and the Florida Forever Program. The organization assists landowners with conservation easement and incentive programs. Since its inception in 2015, FCG has represented private landowners in the conservation of over 65,000 acres of land and facilitated the protection of thousands of additional acres on behalf of governmental entities.

About Common Ground Ecology
Common Ground Ecology helps government agencies and landowners to develop workable, science-based plans that balance the needs of wildlife and natural lands with land use issues. We develop fair, honest and comprehensive assessments and strategies that protect Florida lands, native wildlife and the people those systems impact.

About the Southeast Aquatics Fund
Launched in 2017, the Southeast Aquatics Fund supports voluntary watershed-based restoration and improved management to improve aquatic systems and secure populations of native freshwater aquatic species. Including this year’s grants, the program has awarded $10.5 million to 46 conservation projects expected to benefit more than 700,000 acres of working lands and riparian areas and restored more than 60 miles of the most biodiverse stream habitat in the world.

A complete list of the 2023 grants made through the Southeast Aquatics Fund is available here.

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate, foundation and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 6,000 organizations and generated a total conservation impact of $8.1 billion. NFWF is an equal opportunity provider. Learn more at nfwf.org.