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Encore: ‘Preserve or develop? Race against time to protect Florida’s Wildlife Corridor’

For large mammals like the Florida panther and Florida black bear, large tracts of contiguous land are crucial to their ability to live and thrive. To that end, in 2021 the Florida legislature passed — with bipartisan support — the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act, and Governor Ron DeSantis signed it into law.

The Act was heralded as a major development in land conservation, and has led to the preservation of hundreds of thousands of acres of land since its passage. But, because it lacks a regulatory mechanism, there are a number of large developments being proposed within the corridor, including here in Southwest Florida, like the Bellmar project in eastern Collier County and the Kingston project in eastern Lee County.

Both of them are currently on hold as a lawsuit plays out over how the permitting process works after the Trump Administration transferred federal permitting power to the State of Florida in the waning days of his presidency. That move has been challenged in court and is still playing out.

All of these angles are covered in the recent feature story in the Florida Trident called “Preserve or develop? Race against time to protect Florida’s Wildlife Corridor” by investigative journalist, Jimmy Tobias.

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