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Proposed conservation area could help protect the Florida Wildlife Corridor

Federal money could be used to match or augment existing state dollars used to protect environmentally sensitive land, including that of the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

The federal government is proposing a wildlife conservation area to include parts of twelve counties, ranging from Polk and Manatee south to Hendry and Collier. It includes the watersheds of the Peace River, Myakka River, Fisheating Creek and Caloosahatchee River.

It would use federal dollars to leverage existing projects, including a wildlife corridor that allows Florida panthers to migrate north from the Everglades.

This Everglades to Gulf Conservation Area would augment money from the state to preserve land.

Mallory Lykes Dimmitt is CEO of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation. She says this could be another tool in the effort to create a wildlife corridor.

"It's a total opportunity for federal investment now to be able to be used in this protection boundary," she said. " It just gives more flexibility and another opportunity to say this is important. It ranks highly in the scores for programs that are out there."

Jason Lauritsen is Chief Conservation Officer of the Corridor Foundation.

"It's not the dollars that's going to make the difference. It's the fact that there's partnership," he said. "You can leverage those dollars for deals. You can have federal match in certain places. But it's also good when the private not-for-profits, the ranching community, the state and local governments and the federal government are all on the same page. It makes it easier to partner and sit down together."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking comment from the public on the project through the end of October.

Please submit comments to: or NWRS E2G CA, P.O. Box 700188, Wabasso, FL 32970.

Details, including information on public meetings, will be posted online at: