Watersheds Conservation at Triangle Ranch

Nestled in the southwest corner of Florida and perched at the north end of Myakka River State Park, the 1,143 acre Triangle Ranch teems with birdlife. Christmas Bird Counts conducted since the 1940’s have recorded more than 280 species on the property and surrounding areas, including Florida Sandhill Cranes, Wood Storks, and Crested Caracaras. Now, thanks to the vision of the local philanthropist-turned rancher who purchased the property, leadership from the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, which secured the funding to purchase a conservation easement on the land, and a grant from the Healthy Watersheds Consortium, this property is now protected forever from development.

Its natural features and ranch lands will provide habitat for birds and help keep water supplies clean for people and nature. Triangle Ranch, which is part of the Myakka Island Conservation Corridor Project, is one of dozens of watershed protection programs underway across the United States that are supported by the Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program. This partnership includes the federal the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the not-for-profit U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities. In the first two years of the partnership, more than $4.1 million in grants has been awarded to 25 projects in 30 states. The partnership is planned to continue for at least four more years.

The program is focused on helping local organizations protect the freshwater ecosystems and watersheds upon which their communities depend.

Healthy, well-managed watersheds keep drinking water supplies clean, abundant, and affordable. These same lands may contribute to local economies by supporting jobs associated with forestry, agriculture, and nature-based tourism, and, of course, birds and other wildlife thrive. The Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program awards are not used for direct land purchase, but instead help local groups finance the people and programs they need to succeed with their watershed protection work. In the case of the Triangle Ranch, for example, the grant helped support staff time that was necessary for landowner negotiations and to raise the funds necessary for a conservation easement on the ranch.

People, birds, and all of nature depend on the same landscapes. The Healthy Watersheds Consortium is one public-private partnership that is helping protect these lands.

Peter Stangel, Ph.D., is Senior Vice-President at the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, an avid birder, and an informal advisor to Zeiss North America. You’ll finde more information at:
Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program
Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast
Photographs by Paul Konrad.

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