First Land Donated for New Everglades Headwaters Refuge

Photo Courtesy Carlton Ward
TAMPA (2012-1-18) -

The Secretary of the Interior was in eastern Polk County today, taking possession of the first parcel of land in a new wildlife refuge at the headwaters of the Everglades. The federal government wants to keep much of the area wild.

Secretary Ken Salazar took the deed to the first parcel of land for the new Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area. The parcel was given to the federal government by the non-profit environmental group Nature Conservancy, which owns land on Lake Hatchineha, straddling the Polk-Osceola county line.

It's the first piece of a plan called the Northern Everglades Initiative, which is an attempt to connect conservation sites that house a number of diverse plants and animals in the headwaters of the Kissimmee River, which flows into the Everglades.

When it's fully completed, the project would span 150,000 acres north of Lake Okeechobee. Most of that land would be protected through conservation easements, which allow private landowners to continue to work the land while protecting it from development.

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