Governing Board Saves Threatened Species and Taxpayer Dollars
July 14, 2017
West Palm Beach, FL – The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board on Thursday took an innovative step that will save two precious Florida resources, the threatened gopher tortoise and taxpayer dollars.
"As Governing Board members, we are stewards of the environment and tax monies entrusted to us," said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Dan O'Keefe. "To help a threatened species, while also making a conscious effort to minimize the use of taxpayer funds is the definition of a 'win-win' for the District."
The Governing Board granted a conservation easement to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for 142.6 acres on the Fort Basinger property to create a long-term gopher tortoise relocation site. The Fort Basinger property is a 264-acre area between Highway 98 and the Kissimmee River in Highlands County that SFWMD acquired as part of the Kissimmee River Restoration Project. Open to the public as part of the vast 30,000-acre Kissimmee River Public Use Area, this property has well-drained sandy areas, tree canopies and low-growing vegetation that make it perfect habitat for gopher tortoises.
Gopher tortoises are designated by the state as a "threatened" species and are required to be relocated to approved sites if impacted by District earth-moving activities or construction.