By Joseph Prenger, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program
Production of food and fiber are fundamental to our society and important contributions to Florida’s economy and quality of life. In addition to these services, private lands provide other important benefits including protection of water quality and fish and wildlife habitat. We in the Florida Land Steward Partnership (FLSP) continuously strive to provide better outreach and information on programs that can help landowners achieve their goals while improving the many environmental benefits they provide to society. To that end FLSP, in conjunction with the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC), have launched a web-based map that allows landowners to identify specific programs available at the local level. Recognizing that not everyone has access to the internet, summaries of this information can also be available at workshops and through FLSP partners.
The natural resource, forestry and agriculture agencies in our state established FLSP with the common objective of assisting and encouraging landowners to manage their lands for long term environmental, economic and social benefits. Our goal is to promote voluntary stewardship on private lands by addressing the needs of private landowners while acknowledging and respecting private property rights. One important approach has been to develop and implement a unified landowner outreach program that provides information on resources available to landowners and promotes land stewardship by increasing cooperation between natural resource agencies.
Each of the agencies making up the FLSP provides technical and/or financial assistance to landowners in order to help them achieve their production and conservation goals. These programs complement one another, but may not always be easy for the public to navigate or understand where and how those programs may apply. Although each agency has resources available at the local level, it may not be easy for a landowner to understand the overlaps and gaps, or the opportunities available on their specific plot of land or for their individual need. In an attempt to address this need, we have developed a way to identify programs at the watershed level. While watershed boundaries may not be obvious in Florida’s low topographic relief geography, it is a convenient way to divide the landscape at a finer scale than by county (see Figure 1).
Using the Map Viewer
The PFLCC website provides access to natural resource information, including an on-line web tool that can be used to identify resources at the local watershed scale. The map is at this link: http://viewer.apps.pflcc.databasin.org/v1/index.html.
By clicking on the arrow icon, located in the upper right corner of the page, and entering the nearest town, you can navigate to the watershed that includes your property. Selecting (or clicking once on) the watershed will bring up a window with several tabs at the left side of the page. Select the Partners tab and then select Private Landowner Opportunities (Figure 2). Information is provided on programs available in your immediate area and by habitat or land use type, with links to program web pages with details on program priorities, application process, contacts, and other details.
The Florida Forest Service provides technical and financial assistance for southern pine beetle prevention and longleaf pine establishment, as well as general forestry guidance and Best Management Practices (BMPs). The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services provides information on BMPs for other types of agriculture. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service provides financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and additional information and general technical assistance is available through their local service centers. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission provides technical assistance on wildlife habitat management and helps to administer the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and NRCS incentive programs dealing with wildlife habitat. The USFWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife (PFW) Program provides technical and financial assistance on habitat restoration, with a focus on habitat for listed species or those that have been petitioned for listing. The emphasis for PFW is to avoid the need to list species as threatened or endangered and to help recover populations of those already listed so that they can be removed from the endangered species list.
The PFLCC is part of a national network of These partnerships are designed to address resource issues in an integrated way at a broader scale than can be achieved by the individual partners. Issues of concern include landscape scale stressors like water resource issues, exotic species, wildlife habitat, urbanization, and habitat fragmentation.
If you have any questions about the watershed map or the programs listed, please feel free to contact the author at the contact information below.
State Coordinator, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program
North Florida Ecological Services Office
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
7915 Baymeadows Way, Suite 200
Jacksonville, FL 32256-7517