The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) partnered with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) and the Florida Forest Service to provide assistance with conservation planning, land management, and restoration efforts through the Longleaf Pine Initiative in FY 2011. An example of one property that took advantage of the initiative was on a 3,200 acre ranch in Gilchrist County, Florida in which several hundred acres are enrolled under the Longleaf Pine Initiative.
In many parts of Florida landowners are encouraged to plant longleaf pines to help reestablish this once dominant ecosystem. Leo (Bud) and Karen Turner, north Okaloosa county ranchers/wildlife land managers, have been hard at work following this recommendation from the NRCS and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC).
“Back in 2003, we came to NRCS to make sure our goats and sheep would stay healthy without hurting the environment,” says Bobbie Golden. “Since then, the local NRCS staff has been there to help us with many of our land management goals.”
Cecil O. Rogers, better known as “Bill”, is truly a natural resources conservationist. Bill owns and manages a 1200+ acre farm in the Svea community of Okaloosa County, Florida. Long range planning, setting realistic goals and implementation of the plan has been Mr. Rogers’s recipe for success on his farm. He operates a 125 cow/calf operation and grows timber on approximately 450 acres of the farm. In conjunction with managing the land for the cows and timber; improving wildlife habitat for bob white quail, turkey, and white tailed deer has been a priority for him. Darryl Williams, NRCS district conservationist has been very instrumental in providing assistance to Bill in helping him attain his conservation goals.
In conjunction with a major land clearing operation to establish a new 13 acre seed production field, the Brooksville PMC is in the process of restoring about 100 acres to its original longleaf pine savanna ecosystem. Phase one, which involved hard wood removal and initial herbicide treatments to control invasive species, was completed in 2010. Phase two will include herbicide treatments to control hardwood re-sprouts with long leaf pine planting scheduled for January 2012.
During FY 2010, Florida NRCS was able to make great strides in helping private landowners sustain, enhance, and restore longleaf pine forests; mainly with funding provided through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program’s (WHIP) Southeastern Forestry Initiative and the Longleaf Pine Initiative.
The Gwinn Brothers are Suwannee County farmers that practice what NRCS promotes - good conservation! By following the NRCS developed conservation plan for their 1,137 acre farm, the Gwinn Brothers have been able to improve water quality, enhance water quantity, reduce soil erosion, improve animal and plant health, and enhance wildlife habitat on their farm.
Jim Bryan, Forestry Manager for Lykes Brothers, Inc. states, “Mr. Lykes Senior, Charlie Lykes, made a conscious effort in the 60s and 70s that this old long-leaf habitat would be left as is. He just knew that it was ground that was fast disappearing in Florida and he wanted it left on the family’s property ... we left it as is and that’s why this Red Cockaded Woodpecker is on this land right now.”
The Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc., under the leadership of President Moses Osceola, has just signed a first-ever EQIP group contract under Tribe, Inc. that will encompass/assist 9 operators in the B-group of the Brighton Indian Reservation. The Tribe's EQIP contract will primarily address water quality/quantity issues at their reservation. While everyone around Lake Okeechobee is tackling the issue of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) of phosphorous going into the lake, Seminole Tribe is cognizant of their own situation.
WRP on public land is a great prospect because the public gets the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of wetland restoration, paid for by local, state and federal tax dollars, through recreational activities such as hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing.
2004 was not a good year for Destin beaches and the people who make their livelihood from them. Hurricane Ivan and subsequent storms have eroded the beaches to record levels. NRCS is helping out by planting sea oats and other plants developed by the Plant Materials Center in Brooksville, Florida.
Jerry Scarborough (left), former executive director of the Suwannee River Water Management District, was named the 2008 Conservation Partner of the Year by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Scarborough accepted his award at the NRCS State Technical Committee meeting in Gainesville.
The Payne family, represented by Kelsey Payne (middle picture) and his son John Payne (left), accepted their award as the 2009 Florida NRCS Conservation Partner of the Year at a meeting of the NRCS State Technical Advisory Committee which is comprised of federal, state and local government agricultural representatives as well as interested tribal representatives, agricultural partners and producers.