Conservation, Military Join Forces to Preserve FL Panhandle
Thursday, February 24, 2022
A new project in the Florida panhandle is ensuring military readiness while conserving one of the most biodiverse regions in the country.
Federal agencies have designated 7.7 million acres from Tallahassee to the Alabama border as a Sentinel Landscape. The area encompasses multiple military bases, including Eglin Air Force Base and a hub for training operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
Kent Wimmer, senior Northwest Florida representative for Defenders of Wildlife, said Sentinel Landscapes are conservation partnerships between the military, state, local and nonprofit organizations.
"What we're trying to do is, we're trying to protect base missions," Wimmer explained. "We're trying to protect working lands, so working farms and forests. And we're also trying to protect habitat for threatened and endangered species."
Wimmer pointed out the Northwest Florida Sentinel Landscape provides an important opportunity to conserve the panhandle rather than clear the way for more development.
Wimmer emphasized the project also will build more resilience against the impacts of a changing climate, such as flooding. The region already is experiencing more extreme weather. Tyndall Air Force Base received a direct hit from Hurricane Michael in 2018, resulting in a rebuilding price tag which could reach $5 billion.
In addition, Wimmer noted the panhandle is home to the highest species diversity of reptiles and amphibians north of Mexico.
"We're also looking for opportunities where we can protect some of the last remaining habitats for endangered species like the eastern indigo snake or flatwood salamanders or the Okaloosa darter or the gopher tortoise," Wimmer outlined.
Other Sentinel Landscape designations have been announced in Texas and Indiana. Next Wednesday, the Sentinel Landscapes Partnership, composed of the U.S. departments of Agriculture, Defense and Interior, will host a webinar on the new conservation projects.
get more stories like this via email
Research is emerging about the secondary trauma school staff members face after helping students during the pandemic. As summer moves forward…
Health and Wellness
A Florida judge plans to put a hold on the state's new, 15-week abortion ban, set to take effect today. He said it is unconstitutional and will issue …
The Environmental Protection Agency now has fewer tools to fight climate change, after the U.S. Supreme Court stripped the agency of its authority to …
Three projects in Idaho have been selected to receive grants from the AARP Community Challenge. Among them is the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in …
Montanans get a sense of what soil health is like on farms and ranches across the state with Northern Plains Resource Council's soil crawls. The …
A new tool aims to help older adults in Arkansas and beyond who receive Medicare track what happens at their doctor appointments. It also can help …
A campaign in Maine is gathering signatures to replace the state's investor-owned energy grid with a consumer-owned utility. Central Maine Power (…
Another important U.S. Supreme Court ruling this month has been overshadowed by the controversy about overturning abortion rights. Legal experts say …