This partnership is an effort to improve military readiness, protect at-risk and endangered species, enhance critical wildlife habitat and protect/enhance working agricultural and natural lands surrounding the bombing range.
Sentinel Landscapes are biodiversity hotspots. Avon Park is home to the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and the Air Force Range is surrounded by cattle ranches, citrus groves, row crop farms and working forests.
This Sentinel Landscape has 26 federal, state and local partners that have committed more than $8 million to protect or enhance nearly 2,000 acres of working agricultural and natural lands.
Florida Farm Bureau Federation staff worked in coordination with local Farm Bureaus in meetings with agencies at the local, state and federal level to craft an application that supports agriculture. Farmers in the area are participating in a program that keeps land in farming while providing the necessary buffers required by the bombing range for low altitude operations.
“The Sentinel Landscape Partnership was a lengthy process involving multiple meetings between landowners and U.S. Air Force officers,” Charles Shinn, Florida Farm Bureau Director of Government & Community Affairs, stated. “The agreement ensures that the bombing range can be used efficiently to train military pilots while adjacent landowners are able to maintain farming and ranching.”