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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

66 Environmental Acres Acquired By Lake Wales Ridge Ecosystem Florida Forever Project

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LAKE WALES RIDGE ECOSYSTEM FLORIDA FOREVER PROJECT  

Through the Florida Forever program, DEP acquired 212 lots under delegation within the Lake Wales Ridge Ecosystem Florida Forever Project.

Managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as part of the Holmes Avenue tract within the Lake Wales Ridge Wildlife Environmental Area, the small lots total 66 acres and play a significant role in consolidating a management boundary within the tract. 

The property lies within the Florida Wildlife Corridor and exemplifies the concept of connecting landscapes for healthy populations of wildlife, including the Florida scrub-jay, sand skink, scrub blazing star and scrub plum.  

Lake Wales Ridge, a unique geological feature that stretches south from near Orlando almost to Lake Okeechobee, is an ancient beach and dune system that has stood 300 feet above sea level for over 1 million years. Lake Wales Ridge contains plants and animals found nowhere else and preservation of this property protects one of the best remaining examples of ancient scrub and safeguard the highest concentration of endemic scrub plants and animals, many in jeopardy of extinction.  

Florida Forever is the state’s conservation and recreation land acquisition program, a blueprint for conserving our natural resources and renewing the state’s commitment to preserving its natural resources and cultural heritage. DEP’S Division of State Lands is Florida’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship. 

Since 2019, the state has invested $1.25 billion for land acquisition, including $825 million specifically for the Florida Wildlife Corridor. This consistent funding has allowed DEP to acquire over 220,000 acres during this time, approximately 90% of which are within the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

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