About Florida Conservation Group

Contact Information

Tel. 941.234.7201

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


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.

FCG Board Member Jim Strickland

Jim Strickland


Jim has six decades of ranching experience and comes from a family that has been ranching in Florida since the Civil War. 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. He is pursuing state and federal conservation easements on Blackbeard’s Ranch and is involved in local food initiatives. Jim’s goal is to develop Blackbeard’s as a model for sustainable agriculture and conservation.

Jim is a passionate 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 served as president of the FL Cattleman’s Association, past chairman of the FL Cattleman’s Foundation, chairman of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association PAC and he currently sits on the board of the Florida Agriculture Center and Horse Park and numerous other agricultural committees. Jim’s son, J.J. Strickland, daughter in law Sara and granddaughter Quinn reside in Washington D.C.

FCG Board Member Julie Morris

Julie Morris


Julie holds the position of Florida and Gulf Programs Manager for the National Wildlife Refuge Association. Julie has over 20 years’ experience working in the conservation field. Julie has a wide breadth of experience and knowledge, from working as a wildlife biologist and land manager to land protection implementation and advocating for land conservation funding and programs.

Julie works with all levels of governmental agencies and private entities to: develop conservation plans for protected wildlife species, identify conservation lands and protection strategies; conservation lands design, management and policy, community education and outreach and stakeholder coordination. Her passion is assisting landowners in protecting their natural and agricultural lands; she has extensive knowledge and experience in land acquisition and easement programs, and other conservation incentive programs that can assist landowners and achieve conservation goals. Julie holds a Master’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida.



FCG Advisory Board

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

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


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:

Indirect Cost Policy

Updated June, 2021

Click icon to view