FWC recognizes Gadsden County landowner for wildlife conservation efforts

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recently recognized the outstanding wildlife habitat management efforts of Marc Dunbar as part of the agency’s Wildlife Habitat Recognition Program. Dunbar owns the 136-acre Lonesome Palm Farm in Gadsden County, which is comprised of a mixture of upland pine forests, hardwood bottoms and slope forests.

By implementing management practices including thinning of pine stands, planting annual food plots, planting mast trees such as white oaks, conducting prescribed burns and treating invasive exotic plants, Dunbar has significantly improved wildlife habitat on his property. These actions have benefitted a wide variety of native wildlife species found on the farm, including white-tailed deer, bobwhite quail, wild turkey and songbirds.

It has long been recognized that sustainable wildlife populations depend on private and public lands for the necessary amount of habitat. The efforts of private landowners to manage their own land to benefit wildlife and their habitat compliments the efforts of state agencies and is critical in ensuring that future generations will have the opportunity to experience and enjoy wildlife in their native habitat. Without private landowner efforts, countless plant and animal species will be at risk of significant population declines that could result in them becoming candidates for listing on state or federal threatened and endangered species lists.

To show appreciation for the hard work done by landowners to conserve our state’s wildlife, the FWC’s Landowner Assistance Program created the Wildlife Habitat Recognition Program. This program formally honors landowners who complete specific requirements by awarding them with a sign to display on their property and a certificate recognizing their habitat restoration efforts.

Private lands play a critical role in wildlife conservation by protecting and restoring rare habitats like the longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystem, managing farms, ranches and forests that provide habitat to many species. While public land protects some species of wildlife, these properties form a fragmented landscape of habitat. Private lands connect these islands of public land and provide critical habitat and corridors necessary for many species to thrive.

Landowners working toward meeting the management requirements for the Wildlife Habitat Recognition Program are offered a written management plan to guide them in meeting the habitat management standards needed to receive a sign. Interested landowners of 20 acres or more can apply online. For more information, visit MyFWC.com/LAP and click on “Landowner Recognition Programs.”

FWC Landowner Assistance Program biologists provide technical assistance to private landowners, helping them develop management plans for their property that maximize benefits to wildlife and people. They can also assist with finding financial assistance to complete important habitat restoration projects on private lands. To learn more about this program or to find help and resources for managing wildlife on your property, check out our “Wildlife and Habitat Assistance” section online at MyFWC.com/LAP or call your FWC Regional Office and ask to speak to a LAP biologist.