Lake Wales Ridge NWR, photo by Reed Bowman,Research Biologist,
Archibold Biological Station
The Florida Everglades are unique in the world and combine the only subtropical ecological communities in the continental United States in a rich mosaic of habitats. Everglades National Park is highly significant internationally and has been designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations, a Wetlands of International Significance, and an International Biosphere Reserve. It is the largest designated wilderness in the eastern United States and is regarded as the most significant breeding grounds for wading birds in North America. The Everglades is the subject of the largest restoration program in the United States called the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).
President Obama's Great Outdoors Initiative Establishes the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Rufuge and Conservation Area
On Wednesday, January 18th, a 10-acre tract on the east side of Polk County became the first building block
of the new Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar,
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, and Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the announcement at the
Future Farmers of America Center on Lake Pierce. The Nature Conservancy donated the parcel.
The innovative new refuge plan focuses on regional partnerships between state and federal agencies, ranchers, other
landowners and the managers of existing conservation lands to help conserve a rural working ranch landscape while also
providing important wildlife corridors, restoring water quality and wetlands and supporting Everglades restoration efforts.
Lands with high water and wildlife resource values in Polk, Highlands, Osceola, Orange and Okeechobee counties are included in
the plan with 50,000 acres targeted for protection through direct purchases and an additional 100,000 acres of ranch lands
protected via conservation easements.
Connecting the resource management role of ranchers to existing conservation lands and new acquisitions to protect the
Northern Everglades region will help provide a contiguous ecological network throughout south Florida.
Approval for the appropriation of funding must come from Congress. We will keep you informed of project progress.
It will be a while before the USFWS can establish an office in the area but once they do they will be looking for people who are
interested in helping out with the new refuge. The Service has a long history of Sierra Club volunteer work
weeks at Pelican Island and they look forward to doing the same with the new refuge.
Threats include: continued urban encroachment into natural areas, reduced commitment to restore water quality, failure to decompartmentalize the system, spread of invasive species, marginalization of CERP restoration projects, inadequate land acquisition, inadequate restoration of habitats, further threats to the 68 federally listed species including the Florida panther.
Opportunities for Protection
Sierra Club Florida Goals
General goals include achieving restoration of the natural system and preventing the loss of remaining natural areas.
Our work includes: planning for: litigation, administrative actions, education, coalition building, political action; participating in meetings around the state; supporting legislative lobbying efforts.
Other club information on Everglades Protection and Restoration: