NFWF Southeast Aquatics Program: Managing Central and South Florida’s Ranchlands to Improve Water Quality Organization (2020-2023)

The Florida Conservation Group has partnered with Common Ground Ecology to implement a large, multi-year project to assist landowners with grazing management planning in central and southwest Florida. The project is funded by the United States Department of Agricultural (USDA) and involves working closely with private landowners and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff. By providing technical assistance to ranchers within the NRCS network, FCG, CGE and our partners will create management and grazing plans that utilize best management practices for rotational grazing to reduce soil compaction and erosion; incorporate prescribed fire to maintain natural ecosystem functions; increase forage quality; and encourage retention of native vegetation. Improving cattle and land management through prescribed fire and rotational grazing aims to decrease soil compaction and nutrient run-off typically associated with cattle operations, encouraging native vegetation retention for wildlife habitat and improving the quality and quantity of surface water. Improving water quality within these ranches will encourage improved habitat management that should positively impact a variety of species, especially those that forage or persist in and around wetlands, like the eastern indigo snake, Florida panther, wood stork, Everglade’s snail kite and Florida bonneted bat.