The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recently recognized the outstanding wildlife habitat management efforts of private landowner Jake English of Pasco County. The recognition is part of the Wildlife Habitat Recognition Program, meant to formally honor exemplary landowners by gifting them with a sign to display on their property and a certificate recognizing their habitat conservation efforts.
English began working with the FWC in January 2020 to create a management plan for his 30-acre property, Drexel Farms, where he implements a variety of practices to benefit game and imperiled species, as well as other wildlife species on his property. These beneficial practices include prescribed fire, brush management and invasive plant control to improve the food, shelter and water available to wildlife on the property.
“We are impressed by the hard work Mr. English has put into his property,” said Luis Gonzalez, FWC’s Southwest Regional Landowner Assistance Program Coordinator. “His management practices have provided tremendous habitat improvement for local fauna. We hope his efforts can serve as an example for all other private landowners in Florida to follow.”
More than 70% of land in Florida is privately owned, while more than half of all threatened and endangered species in the United States depend on privately owned land to thrive. As a result, private lands play a critical role in wildlife conservation by protecting and restoring rare habitats, such as the longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystem, and by responsibly managing farms, ranches and forests that provide habitat for many species. While public land protects many species of wildlife, these properties form a fragmented landscape of habitat. Private lands connect these islands of public conservation land and provide critical habitat linkages and corridors necessary for many species to thrive.
The efforts of private landowners in managing their own land to benefit wildlife compliments the conservation efforts of public agencies and is critical to ensure that future generations may experience and enjoy wildlife in their native habitat. Without private landowner efforts, countless plant and animal species would be at risk of significant population declines, which could result in them becoming listed on state or federal threatened and endangered species lists.
FWC’s Landowner Assistance Program offers a written management plan to guide landowners interested in working toward meeting the requirements for the Wildlife Habitat Recognition Program. Interested landowners with properties of 20 acres or more can apply online. For more information, visit MyFWC.com/LAP and click on “Landowner Recognition Programs.”
FWC Landowner Assistance Program biologists provide technical assistance to private landowners, helping them develop management plans for their property that maximize benefits to wildlife and people. These biologists can also assist with finding financial aid to complete important habitat restoration projects on private lands. To learn more about this program or to find help and resources for managing wildlife on your property, check out our “Wildlife and Habitat Assistance” section online at MyFWC.com/LAP or call your FWC Regional Office and ask to speak to a LAP biologist.