Wildlife reserve created around NAS Pensacola, other NWFL bases

Sentinel Landscapes Partnership, comprised of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Defense (DoD), and the Department of Interior (DOI), announced the designation of the Northwest Florida Sentinel Landscape (NWFSL), encompassing approximately 7.7 million acres across the Florida Panhandle.

This includes the areas around NAS Pensacola, Corry Station, Saufley Field, NAS Whiting, Hurlburt AFB, Eglin AFB and Tyndall AFB.

This federal designation will coordinate federal, state, and local programs to conserve working forests, farms, and ranches as well as wildlife habitat around the military base. Defenders of Wildlife will serve as its nonprofit coordinator.

“Designating this area as a Sentinel Landscape is critical to promoting sustainable management practices on the land that will help protect wildlife habitat. This is a major victory for biodiversity and our armed forces,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife. “We are proud to be part of such a unique partnership and hope it will continue to serve as a model for collaborative landscape management for years to come.”

As the nonprofit coordinator, Defenders will be working with our agency and organizational partners to identify and implement collaborative projects to achieve conservation goals on the ground. These projects will also minimize encroachment threats and alleviate constraints to military missions while supporting the sustained health of the region’s natural assets.

Founded in 2013, Sentinel Landscapes are a collaborative effort by the DoD, DOI, USDA, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations to work with private landowners to advance sustainable land management practices around military installations. These partnerships strengthen military readiness, conserve natural resources, bolster agricultural and forestry economies, and increase climate change resilience.

“We are so pleased to see this designation in support of the military mission,” said Catherine Phillips, Assistant Regional Director with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “It solidifies and expands partnerships to conserve lands, waters and wildlife in Florida while ensuring military readiness.”

The NWFSL Partnership, which represents over four dozen federal, state, and regional agencies as well as non-governmental organizations in the region, is working to ensure natural and working lands thrive alongside the region’s military installations and ranges. The NWFSL designation will help these partners collaborate and attract federal, state and private funding to keep working lands working to protect military missions of six military installations and to conserve habitat for sensitive wildlife species. To learn more, visit the NWFSL Story Map at: https://defenders-cci.org/app/NWFSL_StoryMap/home.html.