November 16, 2020

Rep. Lawson Requests Support for Conservation Projects in Florida

WASHINGTON DC  U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (FL-05) sent a letter to Chief of the United States Forest Service Vicki Christiansen requesting the support of the Osceola National Forests’ Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) application. These funds would restore longleaf pine habitat, improve watershed protection and increase public recreational access by acquiring the Pineroots property and the Summers property. 

“Protecting these lands will deliver expanded access to hunting, fishing and hiking, which contribute to my state’s robust outdoor recreational economy.” Rep Lawson said. “The state will help manage the lands for public recreational access as part of an existing Wildlife Management Area, creating a double win and increased public opportunities with the USFS’ acquisition of these two inholdings.” 

The Osceola National Forest comprises more than 200,000 acres that span northward to the Florida-Georgia state line. The Osceola National Forest’s FY22 LWCF application will help acquire the longstanding inholdings within Osceola’s authorized boundary from willing sellers, including the 6,980-acre Pineroots property and the 7,188-acre Summers property.

Both projects are in the Forest’s Pinhook Swamp Purchase Unit, an area established by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to connect the Osceola National Forest to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, providing a critical wildlife corridor in the eastern United States. 

Rep. Lawson believes these conservation projects will also help preserve the Suwannee River's headwaters, which is itself a popular recreational destination and critical water source for the state of Florida.