“Defenders is proud to serve as the nonprofit coordinator for the Northwest Florida Sentinel Landscape. Designating this area as a Sentinel Landscape is critical to promoting sustainable management practices on the land that will help protect wildlife habitat. This is a major victory for biodiversity and our armed forces. We are proud to be part of such a unique partnership and hope it will continue to serve as a model for collaborative landscape management for years to come.”
The Sentinel Landscapes Partnership, comprised of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Defense (DoD), and the Department of Interior (DOI), announced the designation of the Northwest Florida Sentinel Landscape (NWFSL), encompassing approximately 7.7 million acres of the Florida Panhandle around Eglin Airforce Base. This federal designation will coordinate federal, state, and local programs to conserve working forests, farms, and ranches as well as wildlife habitat around the military base. Defenders of Wildlife played a key role in developing the partnership.
“Defenders is proud to serve as the nonprofit coordinator for the Northwest Florida Sentinel Landscape. Designating this area as a Sentinel Landscape is critical to promoting sustainable management practices on the land that will help protect wildlife habitat. This is a major victory for biodiversity and our armed forces,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife. “We are proud to be part of such a unique partnership and hope it will continue to serve as a model for collaborative landscape management for years to come.”
As the nonprofit coordinator, Defenders will be working with our agency and organizational partners to identify and implement collaborative projects to achieve conservation goals on the ground. These projects will also minimize encroachment threats and alleviate constraints to military missions, while supporting the sustained health of the region’s natural assets.
Founded in 2013, Sentinel Landscapes are a collaborative effort by the DoD, DOI, USDA, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations to work with private landowners to advance sustainable land management practices around military installations. These partnerships strengthen military readiness, conserve natural resources, bolster agricultural and forestry economies, and increase climate change resilience.
“We are so pleased to see this designation in support of the military mission,” said Catherine Phillips, Assistant Regional Director with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “It solidifies and expands partnerships to conserve lands, waters and wildlife in Florida while ensuring military readiness.”
The NWFSL Partnership, which represents over four dozen federal, state, and regional agencies as well as non-governmental organizations in the region, is working to ensure natural and working lands thrive alongside the region’s military installations and ranges. The NWFSL designation will help these partners collaborate and attract federal, state and private funding to keep working lands working to protect military missions of six military installations and to conserve habitat for sensitive wildlife species. To learn more, visit the NWFSL Story Map at: https://defenders-cci.org/app/NWFSL_StoryMap/home.html.
“The USDA Forest Service and the National Forests in Florida are excited about the designation of the Northwest Florida Sentinel Landscape,” said Forest Supervisor Kelly Russell. “We look forward to working with our federal partners through shared stewardship while supporting military readiness and securing conservation benefits for communities.”
Northwest Florida Sentinel Landscape is one of the largest in the country and the second designated landscape in Florida, joining central Florida’s Avon Park Air Force Range. Reinforcing Florida’s strategic importance to our national defense and its strong support for the military, Florida is the first state to host multiple sentinel landscapes. To ensure effective coordination between these two sentinel landscapes and their diverse partners, 25 parties representing federal and state agencies and non-governmental organizations signed a Florida Sentinel Landscapes Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on January 21, 2022. This MOU establishes a statewide framework to strengthen collaboration and streamline activities that connect private landowners around military installations with voluntary government and private assistance programs.
“The staff of Avon Park Air Force Range would like to extend our sincere congratulations to the new Northwest Florida Sentinel Landscape,” said Charles E. MacLaughlin, Director of Operations, Avon Park Air Force Bombing Range, U.S. Air Force. “We are thrilled for the first ever, one-of-a-kind opportunity to have two Sentinel Landscapes in one state. This is a huge win for the state of Florida and for the Sentinel Landscape Program.”
“I am absolutely looking forward for the coordination of resources and ideas for the implementation of conservation practices in private lands in Northwest Florida,” said Juan Hernandez, Florida State Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.