U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service creates four million acre Florida conservation area

Mar 13, 2024

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced the creation of the Everglades to Gulf Conservation Area, a four million-acre conservation area that extends across twelve counties in western Florida.

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland made the announcement on Monday at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida during a celebration commemorating the 121st anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System, a collection of 571 refuges and 38 wetland-management districts. The National Wildlife Refuge System was originally established in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt when he designated the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge on March 14.

The Interior department celebrated the announcement as the fourth new unit added to the Refuge System by Secretary Haaland (the others include the Wyoming Toad Conservation Area, the Paint Rock River National Wildlife Refuge in Tennessee, and the Lost Trail Conservation Area in Montana). “The National Wildlife Refuge System plays an invaluable role in providing vital habitat for wildlife species, offering outdoor recreation access to the public, and bolstering climate resilience across the country,” Secretary Haaland said. In addition, the establishment and expansion of National Wildlife Refuges is an important step toward reaching the national goal of protecting 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030.

Everglades to Gulf Conservation Area is home to Florida black bears, Everglade snail kites, Florida panthers, sand skinks, and more than 100 other threatened or endangered species.

2024 state legislative debrief: New Mexico

Now that New Mexico’s state legislative session has wrapped up, Center for Western Priorities Policy Director Rachael Hamby is out with a new blog post highlighting the conservation and energy wins, losses, and unfinished business from this year’s short legislative session. As Hamby writes in the blog, “As is perennially the case in New Mexico, many bills are introduced but few succeed. With such short legislative sessions and an all-volunteer legislature (the only such state legislature in the nation), the majority of bills die in committee simply because they run out of time.” Check out the blog for more details about the 2024 New Mexico legislative session. This is the first blog post in an ongoing series of state legislative debriefs for 2024, so stay tuned for more details and analysis in the coming months.

Quick hits

Cost of removing salmon barriers surges to $1 million per day, but the results are murky

Seattle Times

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service creates 4 million acre Florida conservation area

Daytona Beach News-Journal | E&E News | CBS12 | ABC25 | Vero News | Florida Politics | Interior press release

Nearly 900,000 acres of Montana public land stuck in access limbo

Montana Free Press

First federal oil and gas lease sale of the year shows changing dynamics around oil and gas

Casper Star-Tribune

Colorado’s proposed fossil fuel phaseout is likely to fail without big changes

Colorado Public Radio

Farmers accused of drying up the Great Salt Lake say they can help save it

NPR

Proposed Nevada power transmission line could interfere with sage grouse habitat

E&E News

National wildlife refuges face more budget cuts

New Mexico Political Report

Quote of the day

“Salmon are our buffalo. It is intertwined within our culture. Our songs, our ceremonies, our subsistence coincide with the salmon. When salmon are not plentiful, we suffer.”

—Ed Johnstone, chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Seattle Times

Picture This

A blue-winged teal is standing in a shallow pool of water.

@usinterior

Signs of early spring are at Bosque del Apache in New Mexico! While most of the sandhill cranes have headed north for the season, cinnamon and blue-winged teal are arriving from Mexico, Central America and South America, where they spent the winter.

Photo by Sue Croyle

#newmexico #birding #wildlife #spring

Featured image: Florida wetlands. Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS/Wikimedia Commons