Earlier this month I attended the 2018 Public Land Acquisition and Management Partnership Conference (PLAM) in Sarasota, hosted by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Division of State Lands. The various panels of speakers were excellent but, as always at these meetings, it was the networking between sessions that was most valuable.
The three-day conference brought together nearly 250 land managers, public officials, engineers, surveyors, environmental partners and other stakeholders including nonprofits, to discuss public land acquisition and management strategies in Florida.
"This conference provided us the opportunity to demonstrate how critical our partnerships have been in Florida's environmental successes," said Secretary Noah Valenstein. "By collaborating with community and environmental partners, we work to complete strategic acquisitions that help protect vital natural resources in perpetuity."
The theme of the conference, "OneFlorida," showcased the importance of partnerships in relation to public land acquisition and management, and the future of conservation. Experts shared ideas and success stories on a variety of panels including Data Driven Decisions for Conservation Planning, Working Land and Water Partners, and Coming Together for Conservation. In addition to the educational sessions, attendees were invited to explore some of Florida's natural resources, including Myakka River State Park, Sarasota Bay, and others.
Approximately 10 million acres are managed for conservation in Florida, and the protection of Florida's resources is paramount, requiring partnerships between government, environment advocates, residents, and the business community. Local governments, county governments, state agencies, military and citizen support organizations all play an important role in preserving's Florida's resources for future generations.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of State Lands is Florida’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship, serving as staff to the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund. As such, the division’s role goes far beyond just acquiring lands for protection. It provides oversight for the management of activities on more than 12 million acres of public lands including lakes, rivers and islands so that all residents and visitors have the opportunity to truly appreciate Florida’s unique landscapes.