Interior Secretary Jewell Visits Northern Everglades
David "Lefty" Durando ranches in central Florida north of Lake Okeechobee in the northern headwaters of the Everglades. Many folks may be unaware that Florida has some very large ranching operations particularly in the central part of the state. As well as being a rancher, Lefty is also a member of Partners for Conservation. The Durando Ranch, in collaboration with the Northern Everglades Alliance and National Wildlife Refuge Association, hosted a tour and meeting on Jan. 9, 2014 with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. Lefty Durando led the tour of the 12,000 acre ranch just north of Okeechobee. Secretary Jewell came to visit Durando Ranch to learn about efforts to conserve ranch land in the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area. In addition to providing a living to ranch families and ranching communities, ranches in this area provide many provide important water quality and quantity services as well as wildlife habitat, food for the nation, and a buffer for the Avon Park Air Force Range. Lefty and his neighbors in the Everglades Headwaters want to continue their way of life while conserving these lands for the future. This is also an area of intense development pressures from the greater Orlando area which lies to the north. Ranchers in the area are excited about the potential of conservation easements through the refuge and conservation area to keep their ranches working for both their families and for the citizens of Florida.
Partners for Conservation at Area Meeting of Utah Conservation Districts
Partners for Conservation board member Russell Davis of Colorado and executive director Steve Jester traveled to Logan, Utah in mid-January to meet conservation district supervisors at the annual area meeting of northern Utah conservation districts. Russell Davis was able to share his story of landscape level collaboration in southeast Colorado. Russell spoke to about 50 conservation district leaders and staff about the partnerships that developed around the efforts to conserve mountain plover, maintain productive grazing operations and sustain local communities over a 10 plus year period. Russell's story had particular interest to this group as many of the northern Utah landscapes represented at the meeting are currently seeking ways to bring together public agencies and landowners in the effort to conserve greater sage grouse.
Partners for Conservation Board Member Russell Davis at California Rangeland Conservation Coalition Summit
The California Rangeland Conservation Coalition in partnership with University of California Cooperative Extension held its 9th annual summit January 21st and 22nd in Oakdale, California. The meeting attracted over 400 attendees which included landowners, agencies, academics, students, cattlemen's associations, professional organizations and nonprofits that provided presentations and discussions around the theme of "Keeping Rangelands and Ranches Viable for Wildlife, Wetlands and Water". In addition to a full days worth of presentations there was also a field trip to visit local ranching operations. PFC Board Member Russell Davis was on the program and and told his story of how the mountain plover changed his life on the ranch. The event featured over 25 sponsors and attracted speakers from around the west. Russell reported that he received many "thank you's" for bringing his story of collaboration and partnership to the event and was asked by several attendees to come share his story with other agricultural audiences and landscapes within the state.