Feds finalize sprawling Everglades to Gulf conservation area

By Hannah Northey | 03/11/2024 02:04 PM EDT

The designated area in Florida is home to 74 types of threatened and endangered species and will be off-limits to development.

This 2017 photo from a motion-activated camera shows a Florida panther at Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.

A Florida panther at Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP

The Interior Department on Monday established a massive 4-million-acre conservation area in southwest Florida, expanding a vast refuge system that provides critical wildlife corridors and protects a region prone to rapid development and sea-level rise.

Top Interior officials unveiled the finalization of the “Everglades to Gulf Conservation Area” at an event Monday in Florida and marked the 121st birthday of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The Fish and Wildlife Service for months has been gathering public input on the designations, which would help aid in the recovery of the Florida panther and other rare and endemic species and ensure the land is never developed. The area is home to 74 federally or state-listed threatened and endangered species.


“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to conserving our lands and waters for current and future generations — and our successes expanding the National Wildlife Refuge System underscore our collaborative work to bring these special places closer to the communities that surround them,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a release.