Stand with Wild Florida
By: Kyle Grammatica
What do you love most about the Florida outdoors? The incredible variety of wild species? The expansive waterways and unique landscapes? The endless recreational opportunities? Whatever it is, we are committed to helping you support it. Since our founding in 1994, we have donated more than $45 million for conservation and outdoor recreation and we’re not stopping there! This year, despite the pandemic, we have continued funding critical conservation projects around the state. These include a 587-acre addition to the Apalachicola Wildlife and Environmental Area, a $150,000 grant to research a neuromuscular disease afflicting Florida panthers and wildcats, and ongoing efforts to restore Florida’s coral reef. Your support is crucial to conservation, like in the below success stories.
The Manatee’s Rebound
One of Florida’s most beloved animals, the manatee was once threatened with extinction. It was first listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s. At the time, there were only a few hundred manatees in the wild due to pollution, disease, and boating accidents. Through the combined action of government agencies, conservation groups, and citizens of all ages, manatees have made an incredible rebound. Their population has risen to over 7,500 animals, and the species was reclassified from endangered to threatened in May 2017. The recovery of the Florida manatee population has been one of the most inspiring conservation success stories of the past 20 years.
Highlands Hammock State Park
The formation of Highlands Hammock State Park provides an excellent example of the power of conservation donations. The Highlands Hammock area has been treasured by Floridians for generations, but at one time, its fate was uncertain. In the late 1920s local citizens became concerned it would be lost to expanding farmland, so they raised money to purchase and protect it. The public’s activism helped get the land consideration for National Park status in 1930, but it was ultimately rejected for being too small. Once again, its future was in question. Philanthropists Margaret Shippen Roebling and her husband John donated $25,000 to fund the land’s preservation. The Roebling family also issued a challenge to the locals: raise $5,000 to help buy the land. This was no easy feat during the Great Depression, but the devoted citizens met the challenge. The Roeblings then contributed another $25,000 and the property was officially purchased and opened as a park in March 1931.
These examples teach us that there is power when we all chip in; every dollar and show of support matters. So pick a project. Choose a cause. Find a fund. Or simply donate now. You can be part of the next great conservation success story.