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CONTACT: Amy Graham, (850) 245-2112 office, (850) 778-7258 cell

Governor and Cabinet Approve Curry Island State Land Management Agreement

~Agreement with Lake Okeechobee Habitat Alliance expands opportunities for recreation, enhances natural resource protection~

TALLAHASSEE - To expand opportunities for recreation, and enhance resource protection, Governor Charlie Crist and the Florida Cabinet, sitting as the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, today approved a lease agreement between the state of Florida and the Lake Okeechobee Habitat Alliance, Inc. (LOHA). The agreement, which allows LOHA to manage more than 2,700 acres of state-owned land located at Curry Island in Glades County, is the result of a public/private partnership between the state and LOHA, as well as Glades County and the South Florida Water Management District, who both manage adjacent parcels.

"Today's decision exemplifies the commitment of Governor Crist and the Florida Cabinet to not only protecting Florida's valuable natural lands, but to ensuring they are open and available for the public to experience," said DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole. "This public/private partnership demonstrates a balanced approach to managing land and enhancing recreational opportunities for the public to enjoy."

The lease agreement approved by the Governor and Cabinet today authorizes LOHA to manage and restore the property's natural resources and to create a fish and wildlife habitat area with a variety of natural resource-based recreational uses open to the public, such as fishing, birding, hiking horseback riding, nature study, primitive camping as well as hunting in controlled areas.

"The area around Curry Island has a long tradition of public hunting," said Jeff Allen of the LOHA Board of Directors. "This lease helps us bring our resources to restoration efforts that aim to improve the conditions for public hunting as well as other types of recreation. We appreciate this chance to partner with the state and look forward to additional partnering opportunities with Glades County and the South Florida Water Management District."

The Florida National Scenic Trail runs along portions of this property border as well as the adjacent Glades County property. As part of the recreational planning process, the Curry Island Trailhead and Trail Loop are being developed to eventually connect with the Florida National Scenic Trail. This will provide trail users direct access to remote primitive camping, several fishing ponds, and the Historic Parker Place & Youth Camp. DEP's Office of Greenways and Trails recently entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Transportation for construction of a portion of the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail, which will facilitate connectivity to the Curry Island access point.

"We are optimistic about the potential this project has to attract bird hunters and recreation seekers from all around the state to Glades County," said Glades County Commissioner Paul Beck. "These partnerships will help us to create a destination that will not only be a tremendous asset to the local economy but will also help to enhance and restore the beautiful natural habitat on Curry Island."

In addition to offering numerous recreational activities, LOHA will also work closely with the South Florida Water Management District to conduct habitat restoration activities within the leased area. This will include plant sampling and monitoring activities, restoration of native vegetation, exotic species removal and prescribed burning. Any fees received from recreational activities will be utilized for habitat restoration and maintenance of the leased premises. The lease is valid for five years, with one five-year renewal option.

For more information about the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, visit www.dep.state.fl.us.

tall grass

"Today's decision exemplifies the commitment of Governor Crist and the Florida Cabinet to not only protecting Florida's valuable natural lands, but to ensuring they are open and available for the public to experience."

Michael W. Sole
DEP Secretary



Last updated: January 26, 2010

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