The Nature Conservancy : TNC And Partners Conserve Ravensworth Farms


October 19, 2021

Conservation easement on Ravensworth Farms prohibits growth and preserves important habitat and pure methods within the Arbuckle Creek watershed


TNC and companions have accomplished the safety of the important and numerous panorama of Ravensworth Farms, a 1,069-acre working cattle ranch situated alongside the japanese fringe of the Lake Wales Ridge in Highlands County, Florida. The conservation easement positioned on the ranch completely prohibits growth on the property whereas permitting cattle ranching operations to proceed uninterrupted.
TNC’s safety of the property preserves the ranch’s position as a part of the related hall of important lands that profit wildlife and helps water movement and storage throughout the Arbuckle Creek watershed, a important element of the group’s mission in Florida. 

The property is a key piece within the community of environmentally essential and guarded properties within the area. Ravensworth Farms is bordered by different conserved lands and Arbuckle Creek to the east, which separates the property from the 106,000-acre Avon Park Air Force Range. The property is integral to making sure water high quality flowing into the creek and southward towards Lake Istokpoga. It feeds into efforts to guard and buffer the Kissimmee River and different tributaries to Lake Okeechobee, and in the end the Everglades.
The conservation easement on Ravensworth Farms offers safety for a wide range of essential habitats together with longleaf pine, in addition to iconic wildlife such because the Florida Panther, Florida Black Bear, Bald Eagle, Southeastern Fox Squirrel, Gopher Tortoise, Crested Caracara, and Roseate Spoonbill.
“Securing a conservation easement on Ravensworth Farms is integral to our continued push to protect lands and water assets important to the well being of Florida’s atmosphere, wildlife, financial system and folks. Lands and waters that will in any other case be below menace from growth and different non-conservation makes use of,” stated Temperince Morgan, govt director of TNC in Florida. “We are grateful to the landowners for his or her dedication to conservation and thank our companions on the U.S. Air Force/Department of Defense and USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Services, in addition to our donors, for his or her super help on this shared mission to preserve the lands and waters on which all life relies upon.”
The $2.99 million conservation easement buy—which was funded by TNC donor funds and thru awards from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), via the U.S. Air Force’s implementation of DoD’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) Program—is the newest in a string of conservation easements acquired by TNC. This acquisition will retain the pure agricultural situation of the tract, preserve and preserve the water high quality of the wetland areas, and restrict any growth of Ravensworth Farms.
“These easements hold household farms and ranches intact and forestall growth whereas defending environmental high quality and supporting army readiness,” stated Juan Hernandez, NRCS Florida State Conservationist.
“Our household has treasured this land for practically 5 many years and we knew it was essential to preserve the pure assets which are distinctive to the property,” stated David Dalton, President, Ravensworth Farms, Inc. “We are happy to have the ability to work with TNC, DoD, and NRCS to guard our legacy with a conservation easement to safeguard it from future growth.”
With the property’s location on the western banks of Arbuckle Creek, and its giant portion of Palmetto Creek which drains eastward into Arbuckle Creek, the safety of Ravensworth Farms advances TNC’s water conservation efforts. TNC and its companions proceed to work to guard the watershed, which has confronted threats from excessive depth agriculture and overdevelopment.
Protection of the Ravensworth Farms tract builds on TNC’s decades-long historical past of efficient conservation efforts within the area. This consists of the end result, simply over a 12 months in the past, of the safety of the 5,100-acre Rafter T Ranch. Rafter T Ranch lies roughly a mile and a half to the south of Ravensworth Farms, related by ranchland protected by a conservation easement held by the USDA NRCS. This area of Central Florida is a part of the Everglades watershed, which incorporates a few of the oldest pure habitats and most biodiverse lands within the state and is important to aquifer recharge and water provide to the Everglades.
The safety of Ravensworth Farms helps the collaborative conservation effort designated by the Avon Park Air Force Range (APAFR) Sentinel Landscape during which the property is situated. Known for its wealthy biodiversity throughout the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area, the 1.7 million acres is of excessive precedence for enchancment of water high quality, amount and storage capability, out of doors recreation, and schooling.
“The conservation easement on Ravensworth Farms is a good instance of the ability of partnerships and the targets of the APAFR REPI and Sentinel Landscape Programs. It showcases years of labor and a uncommon win, win, win alternative,” stated Charles ‘Buck’ MacLaughlin, Range Operations Officer, Avon Park Air Force Range. Promoting cattle operations on Ravensworth Farms whereas on the similar time preserving wetlands and essential habitat protects the resiliency of your entire area. It advantages APAFR’s personal inside conservation efforts and ensures suitable land use throughout the vary’s army coaching footprint.
The safety of Ravensworth farms bolsters the alignment between the DoD’s REPI and NRCS’ ALE applications. Requirements, targets, and funds of every company had been mixed to help the identical conservation endeavor, reaching outcomes that met the wants of each businesses—conservation of agricultural land and water assets and strengthening the Air Force mission by defending land across the excessive worth army testing and coaching space.

This press launch was produced by The Nature Conservancy. The views expressed listed below are the writer’s personal.