About Florida Conservation Group

Contact Information

Tel. 941.234.7201
info@floridaconserve.org 

The Florida Conservation Group is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
Federal tax ID number 47-136576

Board of Directors

FCG Board Member David Durando

David “Lefty” Durando

Chairman
lefty@floridaconserve.org

David “Lefty” Durando was born on the edge of Florida’s Everglades in Hialeah, Florida. He grew up with a love for agriculture and Florida’s natural environment. He began working as a cowboy while a teenager and began professional bull riding at age 19. He won multiple championships across the country over a period of 18 years. In the late 1970’s he turned to his true passion, and became a full-time cattle rancher. For the last 40 years he has been cattle ranching across Florida; today he and his family have cattle ranches spanning 20,000 acres.

He has combined his love of ranching with his love for Florida’s wildlife; the Durando Family Ranches are managed for native wildlife and contain high quality habitat that is dedicated towards that purpose. Lefty is an active participant in numerous state and federal programs to manage his ranches for native ecosystems and various listed and other focal species that depend on them. His ranch in Okeechobee County is part of an essential network of wildlife corridors in Florida and provides habitat for listed species including the Florida panther, Audubon’s caracara, wood stork, Everglades snail kite, gopher tortoise, and is being managed to restore habitat for the most endangered bird in the United States, the Florida grasshopper sparrow.

He was instrumental in establishing the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge in 2012, and has been active in lobbying on a federal and state level for conservation easement funding for the Northern Everglades. He works closely with federal and state government agencies in developing landowner incentive programs for wildlife management. He is currently a Board Member for Partners for Conservation, a national landowner-led organization that promotes conservation incentive programs and stronger relationships between landowners and government agencies.

jim strickland

Jim Strickland

Vice-Chairman
strickland@floridaconserve.org

Jim has six decades of ranching experience and comes from a family that has been ranching in Florida since the 1800’s. Jim grew up ranching with his father along the west coast of Florida. When his father died in the 1960’s Jim took over the family cattle operations at the age of 17, primarily leasing land for cattle. His passion for conservation began at a young age, as increasing development pushed him farther and farther inland. Jim is the owner of Strickland Ranch and managing partner of Big Red Cattle Company and Blackbeard’s Ranch, Ranch, a 4,530 acre cow/calf operation that borders Myakka State Park and contains slough systems that feed the Myakka River and drinking water downstream. Jim is a strong advocate for Florida agriculture and conservation, and is a spokesperson for ranchers across the state on the need for conservation funding to protect Florida.

He is a past President of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, past Chairman of the Florida Cattlemen’s Foundation, and served two terms as the Chairman of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Political Action Committee. Jim is co-chairman of Florida Climate Smart Agriculture Work Group; their focus is agricultural land preservation to fight climate change and furthering research on the ecosystem services provided by agricultural land. Jim has been a board member of the Manatee County Farm Bureau for 28 years. He is an American Farm Bureau International Trade Think tank member and the Florida Farm Bureau International Trade Committee Past Chairman. He also sits on the board of the Florida Horse Park. Jim won the 2021 University of Florida IFAS Florida Land Steward Award, and the 2019 Florida Audubon Society Sustainable Ranch of the year. Blackbeard’s Ranch was the winner of the 2019 National Environmental Ranch of the year from National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and was named the 2018 Environmental Ranch of year from the Florida Department of Agriculture. Jim’s passion is cattle and land conservation. 

FCG Board Member Julie Morris

Julie Morris

Director
jmorris@floridaconserve.org

Julie is the Director of Florida Conservation Group and is also the Florida and Gulf Program Manager for the National Wildlife Refuge Association. She has over 25 years of experience working in the Florida conservation field; Julie has a wide breadth of experience and knowledge, from working as a research wildlife biologist and land manager to land protection implementation and developing conservation policy at regional, state, and federal levels. 

Julie founded Florida Conservation Group (FCG) in 2015 with ranchers and scientists. FCG was founded to further the conservation of our working lands, with a focus on ranchlands. Under FCG, she has represented private landowners in the conservation of over 65,000 acres of land; she has facilitated the protection of thousands of additional acres on behalf of governmental entities.  

She has also worked with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to develop and implement incentives based conservation efforts including a payments for ecosystem services pilot project for gopher tortoises, Florida panther habitat and corridor protection planning, helped lead the Southwest Florida Conservation Blueprint pilot project for FWC, and helped lead in the protection of the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area and the development of the Southwest Florida Landscape Conservation Design for the USFWS.

Julie works with all levels of government agencies and private entities to develop conservation plans for protected wildlife species, identify high priority ecological landscapes, and develop conservation strategies and incentives programs. She is also engaged in state and federal conservation policymaking, and community education and outreach. Her passion is assisting landowners in protecting their natural and agricultural lands. She has extensive knowledge and experience in land acquisition and easement programs, cost-share programs, payment for ecosystem services, and other conservation incentive programs that can assist landowners and achieve conservation goals. 

Julie has also worked in conservation and rural development in Latin America and Central Asia. She holds a Master’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida and Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies from Rollins College. 

keith rowell

Keith Rowell

Manager of North Florida Conservation Initiatives
krowell@floridaconserve.org

Keith Rowell, Manager of North Florida Conservation Initiatives for the Florida Conservation Group, is a seventh generation Floridian with over 40 years of professional experience in land conservation, real estate, and land surveying. 

Keith was raised in agriculture and manages his family’s agricultural properties in North Florida where his family has lived since the 1830’s.

Prior to joining Florida Conservation Group, Keith worked for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Florida Forest Service. He directed the Land Planning and Administration team in the Director’s office where he was responsible for the department’s Rural and Family Lands Protection Program (RFLPP). In that role, he brought in private, state and federal partners to provide matching funding that increased the RFLPP protected properties by more than 22,000 acres. Keith also oversaw the Forest Legacy Program, Florida Forever Program project selection, evaluation and ranking and the Florida Forest Service’s acquisition and land management planning. Keith served on the Florida Acquisition and Restoration Council (ARC) as the Director’s representative. 

Keith also worked with the Suwannee River Water Management District where he managed the district’s land acquisition program acquiring several thousand acres of critical water resource and springs protection properties.

His career in real estate advising, site selection and design, and land surveying has resulted in the growth of sustainable agricultural and forestry operations throughout Florida.

Keith has a passion for agricultural conservation and sustainability.

FCG Advisory Board

  • Doyle Carlton III Roman III Ranches
  • Wes Williamson Williamson Cattle Company
  • Ken Griner Usher Land and Timber, Inc
  • Don Quincey Quincey Cattle Company
  • Jimmy Wohl Rafter T Ranch
  • Judge Don Hall Tiger Bay Ranch
  • Brad Phares Lazy JP Ranch
  • Woody Larson Dixie Ranch
  • Dr. Richard Hilsenbeck The Nature Conservancy (retired)
  • Liesa Priddy JB Ranch
  • Nano Corona Simmons Corona Ranch
  • Dr. Paul Gray  Gray Ranch and Audubon Florida
  • Tommy Howze Howze Ranch
  • Greg Gordon C&G Cattle
  • Cliff Coddington Longino Ranch

FCG Partners

FCG Consultant Tom Hoctor

Dr.Tom Hoctor

Science Advisor

Tom Hoctor is director of the Center for Landscape Conservation Planning at the University of Florida. He has an undergraduate degree in History and Science at Harvard University and a Masters and Ph.D. in Conservation Biology and Landscape Ecology from the University of Florida. Tom’s research interests include the application of landscape ecology and conservation biology to regional planning, wildlife corridor design, wildlife habitat modeling and policy, and GIS applications in conservation planning. He has served as principal or co-principal investigator on many regional-scale conservation analysis and planning projects in Florida and the U.S. His current projects include the Florida Ecological Greenways Network, the Critical Lands and Waters Identification Project, the Identification of Florida Air Force Installation Conservation Priorities project, and working with the National Wildlife Refuge Association and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Regional Landscape Conservation Design projects in Florida and the Gulf Coast.

FCG Consultant Michael Volk

Michael Volk

Project Coordinator

Michael Volk is Associate Director of the Center for Landscape Conservation Planning at the University of Florida. He has a Masters Degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Florida and a degree in Architecture from the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. Michael’s work includes applied research on land use, regional conservation planning, and urban green infrastructure; the impacts of sea level rise on natural resources and coastal communities; and climate change adaptation strategies and information needs for landscape professionals. Michael assists the Florida Conservation Group with mapping and analysis related to conservation priorities and projects, management of existing projects, and applications for grant funding to further the mission and goals of the Florida Conservation Group.

FCG Partners

Florida Center for Landscape Conservation Planning

www.conservation.dcp.ufl.edu

The Florida Conservation Group works in close partnership with the University of Florida Center for Landscape Conservation Planning. This partnership is focused on ensuring that Florida achieves its wildlife, wildlife corridor, and water conservation goals by protecting the land and waters that have the most strategic significance. We work to incorporate the most up-to-date scientific data to drive the conservation decision-making process through all aspects of the planning process including regional landscape assessments, prioritization, property evaluations and management plans, advocacy for land conservation program funding and allocation, and working with a variety of governmental, NGO, and private landowner partners on a variety of conservation projects. This partnership is a core foundation for both The Florida Conservation Group and the Center to guarantee conservation action that is ungirded by strong science and the utmost land protection and conservation policy expertise. This partnership also includes work with the National Wildlife Refuge Association in the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge project area as well as on regional landscape conservation issues affecting Refuges across the state. The faculty and staff of the University of Florida Center for Landscape Conservation Planning conduct applied research on the relationship between conservation and land use and educate students in principles, issues, and solutions related to ecological and green infrastructure conservation and design. The research activities of the Center include five primary programmatic areas: identification and protection of wildlife corridors and ecological conservation networks; biodiversity conservation; ecosystem services (including water) protection and restoration; resiliency and adaptation related to climate change and sea level rise; and education for students, designers, and planners in relevant principles of landscape ecology, conservation biology, and conservation planning including GIS applications and tools.

Information about specific projects and work completed by the Center can be found at:
www.conservation.dcp.ufl.edu
www.facebook.com/UFCLCP

Indirect Cost Policy

Updated June, 2021

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