Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Turning ranches into one big refuge

A 150,000-acre expanse of cattle ranches and grasslands just north of Lake Okeechobee will soon become a national wildlife refuge where the public can hunt, fish and bird-watch. But the proposed Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area will also help decades-long efforts to restore water in the Everglades, by filtering polluted runoff before it flows into Lake Okeechobee. Because the refuge will eventually provide plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreational activities for Florida residents and visitors, officials involved in its planning want to hear from the public. In February, local ranchers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal and state agencies will host public meetings in cities close to the refuge. About 50,000 acres of the proposed refuge would be purchased by the federal government. The remaining 100,000 would be protected through conservation easements on private land...more

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