TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in partnership with Nokuse Education Inc., has acquired two conservation easements totaling approximately 4,569 acres within the Seven Runs Creek Florida Forever Project in Walton County.
These acquisitions will create an important conservation connection between Eglin Air Force Base and the Choctawhatchee Wildlife Management Area while providing opportunity for the ecological restoration of lands affected by tree-farming. With guidance from the Choctawhatchee Wildlife Management Area, the current landowner plans to harvest timber in an ecologically responsible manner to restore the land’s natural longleaf pine forest.
“These acquisitions will protect groundwater resources and strategic habitat conservation areas for rare species,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “Longleaf pine forests are a major part of the ecological heritage of Northwest Florida. We are proud to add over 4,500 acres today through these two easements and the Florida Forever Program.”
The land was acquired through a conservation easement agreement with Nokuse Education Inc, a not-for-profit organization established by the Stella Davis 2015 Plantation Trust agreement and M.C. Davis, a longtime Florida conversation pioneer.
“This conservation easement will allow Nokuse and DEP to continue the legacy of M.C. Davis and his commitment to preserving land in Northwest Florida,” said Matthew J. Aresco, PhD, Director, Nokuse Plantation. “By protecting over 4,500 acres for longleaf pine restoration, we’re protecting critical habitat for black bears, gopher tortoises and many other rare species, which is what he would have wanted.”
“The Longleaf Alliance appreciates how Nokuse Plantation serves as a great example of private lands stewardship and their extensive investment in environmental education for youth in the region,” said The Longleaf Alliance Project Director Vernon Compton.
Florida Forever is the state’s conservation and recreation lands acquisition program, a blueprint for conserving our natural resources and renewing our commitment to conserve our natural and cultural heritage. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of State Lands is Florida’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship.
About the Florida Department of Environmental Protection
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s principal environmental agency, created to protect, conserve and manage Florida’s environment and natural resources. The department enforces federal and state environmental laws, protects Florida’s air and water quality, cleans up pollution, regulates solid waste management, promotes pollution prevention and acquires environmentally sensitive lands for preservation. The agency also maintains a statewide system of parks, trails and aquatic preserves.
Visit the department’s website at FloridaDEP.gov