The Florida Cabinet has approved a conservation easement in the Lake Okeechobee watershed.
The 2,500 acre parcel lies to the north of Lake Okeechobee. Audubon Florida President Eric Draper says protecting the land from development can slow the flow of water into the lake—reducing stress on the Herbert Hoover Dike and providing habitat for different species.
“The farmland is the best place to store the water,” Draper says. “At one time, most of that Lake Okeechobee watershed was wetlands.”
“So by paying these ranchers to restore the wetlands that’s a way to keep the water in the watershed rather than having it get discharged into lake Okeechobee,” he says.
The Corona family has held the land since the 1980s. Under the $5.7 million easement, they’ll continue ranching in exchange for maintaining wetlands and other environmental features.