TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — State and federal agencies held a virtual ceremony to sign a shared stewardship agreement on the sustainability and management of public and private lands. The agreement is between the Florida Forest Service, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the U.S. Forest Service, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Participating in the virtual agreement signing were Erin Albury, State Forester and Director, Florida Forest Service; Thomas Eason, Assistant Executive Director, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Ken Arney, Regional Forester, U.S. Forest Service Southern Region; Kelly Russell, Forest Supervisor, National Forests in Florida; Juan Hernandez, Florida State Conservationist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); and Sherry McCorkle, Florida State Executive Director, USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA).
Background: The shared stewardship agreement establishes a framework for federal and state agencies to collaborate better, focus on accomplishing mutual goals, further common interests and effectively respond to the increasing ecological challenges and natural resource concerns in Florida. According to the NRCS, the agreement centers on USDA’s commitment to work with states and other partners to use the best available science to identify high-priority forests that need treatment and to ensure the long-term sustainability of public and private lands.
“The signing of this agreement is a milestone towards preserving Florida’s natural treasures for generations to come. It’s a testament to the power of partnerships among state and federal agencies to conserve our natural resources,” said Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. “I thank the U.S. Forest Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and all our federal and state partners for these joint efforts to ensure Florida’s lands, waters, and forests are protected for the future.”
“The state of Florida is complex and very diverse, in terms of its natural resources, its populations, and its resource conservation agencies. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the management of these resources,” said Erin Albury, State Forester and Director of the Florida Forest Service. “This agreement targets limited, shared resources, such as timber, water, and threatened and endangered species, to maximize their benefit and ensure those resources remain healthy, viable, and available for future generations.”
“Partnerships remain essential to everything we do and allow for greater success in reaching our conservation goals and in protecting our natural resources,” said Juan Hernandez, Florida State Conservationist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. “This Shared Stewardship agreement strengthens our commitment to partner in these mutually beneficial areas.”
The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres.
–Florida Department of Agriculture