February 2018 | Gopher Tortoise License Plate
Wildlands is working to help create a specialty gopher tortoise license plate in the state of Florida. Specialty license plates have been an essential part of the conservation strategy for other Florida species including the manatee, Florida panther, and sea turtles, and we wish to add the gopher tortoise to this list.
The gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is a threatened species in the state of Florida, primarily due to loss of upland habitat. A keystone species, gopher tortoises dig burrows that are used by more than 360 other animal species, including some that live nowhere else. In order to bring awareness to the plight of the gopher tortoise, we are hoping to create this specialty license plate and propose that the funds generated by the plate be used for gopher tortoise habitat conservation, habitat management, and research. With your help, we can help protect gopher tortoises and their upland habitat.
October 2017 | Springs Coast Research Station Proposal Update
In collaboration with University of South Florida and the Florida Aquarium, Wildlands has been working for several years to establish a research station along the Chassahowitzka River on the Nature Coast in Citrus County. In June, Wildlands proposal to purchase and establish the Springs Coast Research Station was unanimously approved for full review. The information gleaned during the review (site visit, research) was used to assist the ARC members in determining by a vote in October if it should be recommended to the Board of Trustees for addition to the Florida Forever list. ARC members again unanimously voted favorably on October 20, 2017, for its recommendation for the list. It will be ranked in December 2017 and taken to the Board of Trustees for approval in 2018.
The video below was created and generously donated by Zugunruhe Geo LLC to further conservation.
July 2017 | Henry Mushinsky, PhD, Biologist and a Wildlands Board Member just received the prestigious Henry S. Fitch Award for Excellence in Herpetology. The Award is presented to one scientist each year, and is awarded to an individual “for long-term excellence in the study of amphibian and/or reptile biology, based principally on the quality of the awardee’s research; consideration is also given to educational and service impacts of the individual’s career”.
To those of us who have known Henry personally, had him as a teacher, or are familiar with his incredible body of work, they know that this Award exemplifies his career (to date); he has very enthusiastically dedicated his life to herpetological research, and used that as a training vessel for countless students that are continuing his legacy. Several of us here at Wildlands were students of Henry and it’s hard to find an ecologist or environmental scientist in our field that is not familiar with his body of work. When I was a young undergraduate at USF, Henry was my undergraduate advisor – he was very instrumental in helping me “find my path” in the field of science. I am far, far from being alone in thinking of Henry when I think of some of my most prominent professional influences. As a researcher, as an educator, and as a great friend, we congratulate Henry on this most prestigious of awards.
-Dave Sumpter, Executive Director
April 2017 | Oak Village Conservation Easement Dedication
A dedication ceremony was held on April 7th to celebrate the perpetual protection of over 900 acres in the Surgarmill Woods community of Oak Village in Citrus County. The Oak Village Association collaborated with Wildlands to ensure this natural area remains preserved and pristine, and voluntarily placed an easement on the parcel to reflect the intentional design of the community—a focus on living in harmony with the natural landscape.
April 2017 | USF Fast 56
Wildlands received the USF Fast 56 Award for the second year in a row. This is an award bestowed upon businesses that are the fastest growing businesses owned (or in our case operated) by USF alumni. This year, Wildlands was the only non-profit organization to make the list.