It’s almost impossible to drive very far in any direction in Florida and not find water, though the state’s rapidly expanding human population is making water conservation a hot topic.
According to NWTF Regional Biologist Ricky Lackey, water quality and quantity are exactly why there was a growing need for the newly designated Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge.
“The majority of the Sunshine State’s most desirable areas for development and agriculture are also important for water recharge,” Lackey said. “Many of these areas are forested and provide wildlife habitat and clean water for the aquifer and our lakes and streams.”
Most of the properties on which Lackey and his team work have some type of interaction with water. Whether the property borders a riparian swamp or contains permanent or rainy season ponds, most any disturbance has a noticeable impact on the water source.
“We are always mindful of issues, such as erosion, and comply with all forestry management practices when conducting land management operations,” Lackey said. “No other agencies are more knowledgeable about water resources than the water management districts. This is why the NWTF has partnered with the Suwanee River Water Management District and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in our efforts to restore and enhance much of the upland pine ecosystem on Little River Wildlife Management Area.”
Vital projects like this reflect active land management that improves forest and wildlife habitat while preserving water quality. In doing so, the adjacent Suwannee River, numerous sinkholes and sloughs that feed local springs are safeguarded. By designating streamside management zones around sensitive water features throughout the property, the NWTF and its partners have completed the project with positive benefits to the area’s water system.