BRIEF HISTORY OF THE NORTHEAST FLORIDA OFFICE
After seeing the success of a Southwest office, the Federation saw an opportunity to open a similar office in Northeast Florida. The development pressures from South Florida were creeping up the state and Florida’s wildlife and habitat was starting to be negatively impacted. In 2004, the Northeast office opened its doors and became a leader in growth management and habitat protections.
The regional office, based in St Augustine, oversees activities in Nassau, Baker, Clay, Duval, St Johns, Putnam and Volusia counties. It targets state and local growth management laws because they are legally binding; offer multiple opportunities for public input; protect both wetland and upland habitats; are comprehensive in their application and establish land use patterns on the macro-scale.
||Protecting the rural areas of Northeast Florida from sprawling growth
||Protecting the habitats of native wildlife with the Florida black bear as the guiding species
||Promoting land conservation through acquisition and landowner incentives
||Promoting sound coastal policy reform
The Florida black bear is the guiding species of the Northeast office and efforts are concentrated on protecting the region’s network of private rural lands and public conservation lands. .
Undeveloped areas of primary and secondary range still provide opportunity to create regional linkages between existing conservation lands such as the Ocala National Forest, Matanzas State Forest and Osceola National Forest. The protection of black bear range will also protect habitat for other protected, threatened and endangered species such as the gopher tortoise, Eastern Indigo snake and the Florida scrub jay.
The St. Johns bear sub-population is one of six core areas still in existence. Because of the increased pressures to urbanize rural areas outside of Duval County, the black bear habitat is being fragmented leading to significant gaps in regional corridors. Of focus to the Federation is to identify the vital linkages in Putnam, Clay, Baker, St Johns and Flagler counties and further developing proactive policies to protect the integrity of such corridors to provide mobility for Florida’s native wildlife.
The office is also engaged in a plan to develop coastal policies which will increase protection and restoration of coastal habitats.
HOW IT IS DONE
- Developing strong and broad based partnerships with those having similar and complementary goals.
- Attending and providing testimony at public meetings on matters pertaining to rural lands, wildlife, and wildlife habitat. Repetition and persistence are important components of keeping the conservation mission before the elected officials, the public, and agency staff.
- Participating in government-sponsored stakeholder meetings working on habitat and wildlife issues.
- Keeping agency staff regularly updated on issues and sharing information, data, and documents pertaining to wildlife and habitat protection.
- Monitoring the implementation of local growth management plans to ensure conservation protections are enforced.
- Educating Northeast Florida officials and their staff on the economic, recreational, and aesthetic importance of natural areas and wildlife.
- Working closely with the media.
- Producing white papers, reports, and position statements.
- Litigating when necessary to ensure that wildlife needs are properly considered in land use planning and permitting.
The stability of the Northeast Florida Office team has resulted in the Federation becoming a credible and influential advocate in the region as well as in Tallahassee.
- For ten years, the Federation has engaged well-known environment, land use, and growth management attorney Thomas W. Reese to assist the Northeast Florida Office.
- Federation President Manley Fuller and his seasoned staff in Tallahassee offer important policy and administrative support to the Northeast Florida Office.