FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida, January 7, 2011 (ENS) – The federal government
Wet prairie in the Kissimmee River Valley(Photo by Trish Hartmann)
is looking for landowners in the Everglades headwaters area willing to sell land to the federal government for conservation easements that will protect an area of streams, lakes, wilderness and ranch lands north of Lake Okeechobee.Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with private landowners, conservation groups and federal, tribal, state and local agencies to create a new national wildlife refuge and conservation area that will "preserve the community's ranching heritage and conserve the headwaters and fish and wildlife of the Everglades."
Under the $700 million proposal, the government would purchase about 50,000 acres for a new national wildlife refuge and protect another 100,000 acres through agreements with landowners.
"The partnerships being formed would protect and improve water quality north of Lake Okeechobee, restore wetlands, and connect existing conservation lands and important wildlife corridors to support the greater Everglades restoration effort," Salazar said.