Florida has agreed to buy more than 17,000 acres (6,900 hectares) of conservation land in the Panhandle near the Gulf of Mexico.
Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet approved the $43 million deal on Thursday, the Tallahassee Democrat reported. The funding comes from the state's Florida Forever land conservation program.
Straddling Franklin and Wakulla counties, the tract stretches from Dickerson Bay to Bald Point and extends west to an area known as the St. Teresa Bluffs and Tate’s Hell State Forest. It includes more than 6,200 acres (2,500 hectares) of wetland and almost 11,000 acres (4,400 hectares) of upland.
“Investment of Florida Forever funds in these communities will secure a linchpin for vital habitat in the Big Bend that connects state and federal lands in a ribbon of conservation,” The Nature Conservancy executive director Temperince Morgan said.
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The creeks, rivers and marshes feed the Ochlockonee Bay watershed and flow into Alligator Harbor, both crucial to the area’s seafood and tourism industries, as well as a number of endangered and rare species.