Scott Sanders Chris Wynn Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Adam S. Willcox William M. Giuliano Department of Wildlife Ecology and ...

Scott Sanders Chris Wynn Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Adam S. Willcox William M. Giuliano Department of Wildlife Ecology and ...
Scott Sanders
Chris Wynn
Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission

Adam S. Willcox
William M. Giuliano
Department of Wildlife Ecology
and Conservation
University of Florida

                                 Photo: Robert Hoffman, University of Florida
Scott Sanders Chris Wynn Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Adam S. Willcox William M. Giuliano Department of Wildlife Ecology and ...
Photo: James Henderson, Gulf South Research Corporation,

We gratefully acknowledge and thank all of the private landowners who
participated in the focus groups used to design the survey and completed the
survey. You have been invaluable in shaping the future of private lands wildlife
management in Florida.
  Kristen Nolte and Leander Lacy were integral in arranging logistics for focus
group meetings and supporting their facilitation. The Private Lands Biologists
of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission helped immensely
with survey design, editing, and consolidating the mailing lists, and contacting
landowners for meetings. The members of the Watermelon Pond Conservation
Cooperative assisted us by completing a pilot survey that was instrumental
when designing the statewide survey. We also thank University of Florida IFAS
County Extension Faculty for their hospitality when they provided us with space
for meetings.
  Funding for this work was provided by a State Wildlife Grant as part
of Florida’s Wildlife Legacy Initiative
Printed on at least 10% post-consumer recycled paper with biodegradable vegetable-
based inks.

© 2009 University of Florida and The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Scott Sanders Chris Wynn Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Adam S. Willcox William M. Giuliano Department of Wildlife Ecology and ...
I appreciate the opportunity to fill this out; I am always
interested in managing my land for “natural Florida”
                                          –Survey respondent

Florida’s natural lands and waters are       likely many other agencies to tailor future
invaluable to fish and wildlife and our      services to landowner needs.
quality of life. However, the recently          The survey was administered within
published Wildlife 2060 report (www.         Landowner Assistance Program focal projects a           areas, and directed at nearly 7,000
dismal future for fish and wildlife over     landowners that own 20 acres or more.
the next 50 years, if our abundant           Approximately 3,500 landowners were
natural habitats continue to be              randomly selected to receive a survey
converted to urban uses in support           and we achieved a 51% response rate
of an ever-growing human population.         (Figure 1). The questions answered are
The future for fish and wildlife greatly     helping us better understand landowner
depends upon decisions made by               demographics, landowner needs/
private landowners who own and               concerns, and current levels of active
manage more than half of Florida’s           management.
natural resources. The Florida Fish
and Wildlife Conservation Commission            We thank you for taking the time to
(FWC) recognizes the critical role private   complete the survey, if you were selected.
landowners serve and is engaged in           Given appropriate funding levels, we
multiple efforts to support private          hope to conduct a similar survey in 2010
landowner wildlife management. This          and look forward to your participation.
booklet provides results of a recent         This booklet was produced for private
effort initiated by the FWC to better        landowners and other interested parties
understand private landowner wildlife        and is designed to inform the reader about
perspectives.                                the survey results while also providing
                                             information about a few key wildlife
  During 2008, the FWC and the               programs. We hope you find the booklet
University of Florida Department of          useful and encourage your feedback.
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
partnered to administer a “Florida           The Florida Fish and
Private Landowner Wildlife Survey.”          Wildlife
The survey was conducted to better           Conservation
understand and document private              Commission
landowner needs associated with              University of Florida
wildlife management. The results will        Department of
help FWC’s Landowner Assistance              Wildlife Ecology
Program ( and              and Conservation
Scott Sanders Chris Wynn Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Adam S. Willcox William M. Giuliano Department of Wildlife Ecology and ...
This survey was very important to our agency. By better
understanding landowner needs and concerns, we are now
able to provide specific programs to directly support their
wildlife management interests.
                                 –Scott Sanders, section leader, FWC

Isolated protected areas in a             Conservation Commission (FWC)
landscape of urbanizing and working       realizes the shortcomings of
agricultural lands likely will never be   designing programs without sufficient
able to effectively conserve wildlife,    stakeholder input and this survey is
as they are too small, fragmented,        one of the means by which they are
and of poor quality to provide the        addressing the wildlife needs of all
suitable habitat and connectivity         Floridians.
that healthy wildlife populations
require. In Florida-the state with the    PROJECT AREA: The FWC identified
highest percentage of public lands in     11 focus areas in which to initially
the Southeast-for 179 rare species,       concentrate technical and financial
existing public lands inadequately        assistance for private landowners
protect at least 56 species.              (Figure 2). The focal areas were
Therefore, wildlife conservation          developed to target high priority
agencies must devise programs to          habitats identified in Florida’s Wildlife
encourage landowners to conserve          Legacy Initiative, large blocks of
healthy and stable populations            private land adjacent to public lands,
of wildlife on private lands to           and clusters of landowners near
compliment public lands programs.         areas with successful FWC private
                                          lands programs. The focal areas
  Fish and wildlife agency personnel      contained three general habitat
have been criticized in the past for      types: scrub, sandhill and dry prairie.
designing and producing materials
and programs that do not meet                Scrub is characterized by well-
the needs of their audience.              drained sandy soils, dominated by
Wildlife programs sometimes               oak shrubs, Florida rosemary, ground
suffer from a lack of insight into        lichens and open patches of barren
stakeholder attitudes, beliefs, and       sand. Scrub can contain an open or
values. This can cause biases and         closed canopy of pines, and is largely
misperceptions that can negatively        restricted to Florida.
affect the utility, acceptance and          Sandhill is the elevated dry portion
effectiveness of wildlife programs.       of the high pine ecosystem. It is
The Florida Fish and Wildlife             typified by sandy soils, an open
                                          canopy of primarily pine and some
Scott Sanders Chris Wynn Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Adam S. Willcox William M. Giuliano Department of Wildlife Ecology and ...
Photo: Brandon Schad, FWC

oak, and an understory of perennial     the 11 focal areas using a five-
grasses and forbs. Sandhill high        contact mailing. This included a
pine is found throughout the coastal    pre-letter, the survey, a post card
plain from Alabama and east Texas       reminder, a replacement survey for
to southeastern Virginia.               nonrespondents, and a third survey
                                        for nonrespondents (Figure 1).
  Dry prairie is dominated by
expanses of nearly treeless areas         The data were analyzed using
of grasses and forbs, acidic soils,     appropriate statistical techniques.
and sparse palmettos and shrubs.        Focus areas were grouped regionally
Dry prairie can become covered with     based on demographic and land use
water in the height of the summer       variables to facilitate analysis and
rainy season.                           future wildlife program delivery.
METHODS: We developed a mail
back questionnaire survey based
on FWC regional coordinator and
private lands biologist surveys and
private landowner focus groups.
The questionnaire included items
that measured land use, wildlife
management activities, wildlife
enterprises, wildlife recreation,
and landowner demographics. We
also asked a series of questions
about wildlife management financial
assistance and planning programs.
Our target group was landowners
who owned 20 or more acres in
                                       Figure 1: Florida Private Landowner Wildlife
the focus areas. Addresses were
                                       Survey questionnaire cover.
obtained using the Florida property
tax parcel Geographic Information
System database. We administered
surveys to a random sample of
3,377 landowners, stratified by                                                       5
Scott Sanders Chris Wynn Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Adam S. Willcox William M. Giuliano Department of Wildlife Ecology and ...
Photo: William M. Giuliano, University of Florida

RESULTS: Of the 3,271 deliverable         uses. Landowners in the focal areas
addresses, we received 1,658              of the Panhandle and northern parts
responses for an overall response         of the state primarily reported having
rate of 51%.                              planted timber and native forest. The
                                          central portions of the state were
Demographics and land use - The           fairly diverse, while the southern
majority of landowner respondents         areas were dominated by planted
were 50-64 years old (42%), white         grazing land, orchards and groves,
(95%), and male (76%). Statewide,         native range, and native forest.
the most frequently reported income
category was $50,000-$99,000                Data were examined to understand
(31%). Most landowners had                overall patterns with respect to
bachelor’s degrees (25%), followed        income, land size and land use (Figure
by some college (22%), high school        2). Osceola Scrub, Lake Wales Ridge,
diplomas (20%), master’s degrees          and South Florida Dry Prairie (South)
(12%), associates degrees (6%),           were grouped together because
doctorates (5%), professional degrees     landowners were typically from
(5%), and less than a high school         higher income brackets ($100,000-
diploma (4%).                             $149,000), land acreage was larger
                                          (1,316-11,934 acres), and lands
  Statewide, landowners held an           contained a large proportion of native
average of 1,129 acres with a             and planted grasslands (45-60%).
minimum of 20 and a maximum of
330,000 acres. Landowners and               A second group (Central) was
their families owned their property       formed with Chassahowitzka, Citrus/
for an average of 23 years. Seventy-      Marion, and Brooksville Ridge as
one percent of landowners indicated       properties in these areas were
their primary land use was agriculture,   moderately sized (336-1,161 acres),
followed by development (20%), and        landowners had the second highest
recreation (9%).                          income ($50,000-$99,999), and land
                                          use was mixed between grassland
  We asked landowners to further          and forest uses (30-40% grassland,
classify their land use, detailing the    35-45% forest).
amount of land devoted to different
Scott Sanders Chris Wynn Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Adam S. Willcox William M. Giuliano Department of Wildlife Ecology and ...
With our ranch management, we benefit both livestock
 and wildlife.
                                   –Survey respondent

  The final grouping (North) contained                                              incomes ($50,000-$99,999), and the
Apalachicola/St. Marks, Camp Blanding                                               properties were small (224-758 acres).
Uplands, Ecofina, and Lake/Volusia                                                  These groupings will be referred to as
Scrub. These areas were primarily                                                   South, Central and North throughout the
native forests and planted timber (50-                                              remainder of this report, respectively.
85%), landowners had statistically lower

                                           Landowner Assistance Program
                                                  Focus Areas
                Blackwater/Eglin                                                                 Central

                 St. Marks
                 Camp Blanding
                                            Brooksville Ridge




                                                                     Lake Wales Ridge


                                                                    South FL Dry Prairie

                     Priority Habitats Legend
                                   County Boundaries
                                   Scrub Habitat
                                   Dry Prairie Habitat
                                   Sandhill Habitat

                 0   20   40          80       120        160

               Figure 2: FWC Focus Areas grouped by demographic and
               land use similarities (i.e., South, Central, and North).
Scott Sanders Chris Wynn Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Adam S. Willcox William M. Giuliano Department of Wildlife Ecology and ...
I really enjoy planting food plots for deer and other
game. I like putting out feed for deer and other animals.
Keeping a strong herd of deer and turkey flocks are key
for me. I harvest only a small amount.
                                         –Survey respondent

Wildlife management and                                 and South, and higher in the South
conservation - Statewide, 68%                           than Central. Upland game bird
of landowners thought that their                        management was higher in the South
regular land management practices                       than North and Central, but did not
benefited wildlife and habitat.                         differ between the North and Central.
Fifty-eight percent of landowners                       General wildlife habitat management
indicated that they actively managed                    was not different between South
for wildlife on their property.                         and Central or Central and North,
                                                        but South was higher than North.
   Of the respondents who indicated                     No differences were detected
they actively managed for wildlife,                     among regions for small mammals
they primarily managed for deer                         (squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, etc.) or
(22%), followed by upland game                          songbirds.
birds, and general wildlife habitat
(Figure 4). Considering the top                           We asked a series of questions
five groups, there were differences                     about common land management
among regions. Deer management                          practices that benefit wildlife
was higher in the North than Central                    including planting trees, grasses,
                                Waterfowl     4%
           Reptiles and           6%
           Amphibians                                        Deer
               7%                                            22%
                   Songbirds                                         Upland
                     11%                                            Gamebirds
                               Small Mammals           Habitat
                                     12%                12%

             Figure 4: Wildlife and habitat managed for by Florida Private
8            Landowner Wildlife survey respondents.
Scott Sanders Chris Wynn Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Adam S. Willcox William M. Giuliano Department of Wildlife Ecology and ...
Photo: Chris Evans, River to River CWMA,

 shrubs, and food plots, feeding                       Wildlife recreation - Forty-four
 wildlife, using prescribed fire, and                  percent of landowner respondents or
 installing nest boxes or other wildlife               their families hunted.
 shelters, with similar findings among
 regions (Figure 5).                                     Respondents from the Central
                                                       region hunted less than the North
 Wildlife problems - Statewide, more                   and South, and the North and South
 than 50% of landowners reported                       were not different. Statewide, 6%
 having problems with wildlife. The                    of landowners lease their land to
 South had more problems than                          hunters with no differences among
 North and Central, but there was                      regions. Twenty-two percent
 no difference between Central                         of landowners practice quality
 and North. Landowners reported                        deer management. Only 3% of
 coyotes, hogs, armadillos, raccoons                   landowners conducted guided hunts
 and rodents as the top five problem                   and 4% conducted ecotourism, bird
 wildlife species.                                     watching, or wildlife viewing tours.

                                                                 Wildlife Management
     100%                                                        Activities
       80%                                                         Plant trees
                                                                   Prescribed fire
                                                                   Plant grass and shrubs
       40%                                                         Nest boxes
                                                                   Feed wildlife
       20%                                                         Plant food plots

                  South          Central        North

     Figure 5: Beneficial wildlife land management activities reported by Florida Private
     Landowner Wildlife survey respondents.                                                 9
Scott Sanders Chris Wynn Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Adam S. Willcox William M. Giuliano Department of Wildlife Ecology and ...
Photo: Adam S. Willcox, University of Florida

 Conservation program participation             a conservation and management
 - Forty-two percent of landowners              plan in the future.
 maintained a Greenbelt, which
 provides tax benefits for                        Fourteen percent of landowners
 agriculturalists. Five percent of              indicated they have received financial
 landowners had conservation                    assistance for land management
 easements on their property. The               activities, with no differences among
 South had more reported easements              regions. The most frequent financial
 than North and Central, but North              assistance program reported was
 and Central did not differ. Thirteen           the Environmental Quality Incentives
 percent of landowners indicated                Program (EQIP; 33%), followed by
 they would be interested in placing            the Landowner Incentives Program
 a conservation easement on their               (LIP; 28%), Conservation Reserves
 property with no differences among             Program (CRP; 23%), and the Wildlife
 regions.                                       Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP;
   Twenty-four percent of
 landowners indicated they had a                   Seven percent of landowners
 land management plan, with no                  participated in financial assistance
 differences among regions. Of the              programs for wildlife habitat
 people who had management plans,               management, and 13% of
 most were personally developed                 landowners indicated they plan
 (50%), 29% had a Forest Stewardship            to apply for wildlife management
 plan, 13% had Natural Resource                 financial assistance programs in the
 Conservation Service conservation              future.
 plans, and 8% had private contractor           RECOMMENDATIONS: Wildlife
 developed plans.                               management already plays a major
   Twenty-four percent of landowners            role on private lands in Florida, with
 indicated they have or are currently           nearly 70% of respondents indicating
 developing a conservation and                  that their routine land management
 land management plan, and 30%                  activities benefit wildlife and nearly
 suggested they would like to develop           60% of them actively managing to
                                                promote wildlife on their property.
                                                At the same time, more than 50%
I would like some help to get a good management plan
started. It would not take a lot of money to make my farm
nice for cattle, gophers, rabbits, birds and many more
species ...I could make this farm a thing of beauty forever.
                                                   –Survey respondent

of landowners reported having            upland game birds. And, landowners
problems with wildlife.                  across the state were interested in
                                         general wildlife habitat management.
  Because of this, the FWC is            Consequently, the FWC is pairing a
designing and modifying private          species focus with general habitat
lands wildlife management and            management tailored to regional
conservation programs with the           preferences, where appropriate.
understanding that wildlife have
benefits but also may lead to               Even where FWC goals primarily
problems, sometimes on the same          focus on nongame or threatened
property. The FWC is preparing their     and endangered species, tailoring
private lands wildlife biologists to     programs to popular game species
address these issues simultaneously      with similar needs can directly and
to achieve individual landowner goals    indirectly accomplish those goals as
of protecting some land uses while       many of these animals share similar
increasing wildlife populations on the   habitats. Additionally, landowner-
property.                                preferred species programs are
                                         initiating and strengthening positive
  The 44% of landowners and their        relationships, potentially increasing
families who hunt in Florida is much     the opportunity to promote other
greater than the general public’s 4%     wildlife programs.
regional average and the 5% national
public average.
  With hunting remaining very
popular with private landowners
in the state, the FWC is currently
evaluating their game species
management programs for private
  Our results showed a strong
preference for deer management in
the North, whereas landowners in the
South showed an inclination toward
Landowners should be rewarded for having endangered
species on their property rather than penalized with rules,
regulations and restrictions.
                                       –Survey respondent

   Landowners listing agriculture,     both those who currently have or
including forestry and livestock       are developing plans and those
production, as their primary land      who intend to develop them in the
use were in the majority (70%).        future. The FWC private lands
Therefore, the FWC is focusing their   biologists will continue to support
private lands wildlife management      and provide technical assistance to
programs in agricultural systems       landowners that request planning
to increase quality and quantity of    assistance. The FWC has also
preferred species while minimizing     initiated an information campaign.
crop depredation. Additionally,        This brochure is part of that
the FWC is supporting applied          campaign to provide information to
research studies that tackle           landowners about the benefits of
technical issues related to wildlife   conservation plans and the technical
and agriculture. For example, they     assistance programs available
have recently funded research          to assist private landowners with
projects investigating the effects     planning. Additionally, the FWC has
of prescribed burning and roller       expanded its financial assistance
chopping on vegetation and wildlife    cost-share programs to focus on
in South Florida, translocation        high-priority habitats. This will allow
of bobwhite quail to repopulate        people owning land in those areas to
private lands, and wild turkey         use these funds for many different
habitat preferences. The FWC, in       species including both game and
cooperation with UF/IFAS Extension,    nongame wildlife.
is also adapting their outreach and
extension programs to include a          There is substantial participation
significant agricultural component     in programs such as Greenbelt that
through demonstration plots, field     reduce taxes or evaluate agricultural
days and workshops.                    property values differently than other
                                       land uses. With recent passage of
  Land management and                  a state constitutional amendment
conservation plans are popular         to qualify private conservation lands
with landowners. This is true for      for tax relief, the FWC will work
                                       closely with landowners wanting to
This will likely be linked to existing     The FWC realizes the primary focus
planning programs including Forest          of private lands in Florida remains
Stewardship and NRCS conservation           agriculture, so they are designing and
plans that could potentially certify        implementing wildlife programs that
landowners for tax relief or other          integrate agricultural and wildlife land
financial assistance.                       uses for the landowner’s benefit.
   Although there is currently not            The best approach to achieving
much participation in conservation          integration may be through holistic
easement programs, 13% of                   land and conservation planning.
landowners were interested in               These planning processes
placing a conservation easement             incorporate wildlife into normal land
on their property. Conservation             use operations where possible and
easements provide tax relief for            address wildlife issues contrary to
landowners, while conserving                the primary land use. These plans
the land in perpetuity and can              provide assistance to increase
allow for continued use including           wildlife quantity and quality specific
agriculture. The FWC will continue          to landowner preferred wildlife
promoting conservation easements            species and habitat. Plans will
and strengthen partnerships with            also expedite targeted financial
nongovernmental conservation                assistance and tax relief programs to
easement organizations to provide           interested landowners. The planning
information and technical assistance        process will facilitate the passage of
to interested landowners.                   knowledge between landowner and
                                            agency biologists so that they can
CONCLUSIONS: Private landowners             work together to effectively integrate
in Florida continue to be the               wildlife management on private
stewards of the vast majority of            lands.
wildlife and wild places. The FWC is
very encouraged by this and adapting
current private lands technical and
financial programs to better meet
landowner needs.

Photo: Johnny N. Dell,

CURRENT WILDLIFE PROGRAMS:               Habitat Management Workshops
Many wildlife and habitat                and Field Days - The FWC and their
management programs were                 partners offer technical wildlife
discussed in this report. Several of     management workshops year round
these have been reauthorized and         for the public. They are listed at
expanded in the 2008 edition of the
Food Conservation and Energy Act,        ConservationYou_LAP_workshops.htm
a.k.a. “Farm Bill.” Below, you will
find brief descriptions of programs      Wildlife Habitat Management
currently available and their Internet   Calendar - The FWC and other
addresses. On the following page,        partners produce an annual calendar
we also offer phone numbers for the      with wildlife management tips and
FWC regional and extension offices.      critical dates. Contact your FWC
We encourage you to contact the          regional office for a copy.
FWC and UF/IFAS Extension for            Forest Stewardship Program -
more information regarding these         Administered by Florida’s Division of
programs and application processes.      Forestry, it helps landowners develop
Finally, for a complete report of the    plans to improve forestlands and the
survey please visit       environment. Both the FWC private
CONSERVATION/ConservationYou_            lands biologists and IFAS Extension
LAP_index.htm to download a copy.        help implement this program.
Landowner Assistance Program    ment/
- Administered by the FWC, this          cfa_steward_index.html
program seeks to improve habitat         UF/IFAS Wildlife Extension - The
conditions for high priority habitats.   IFAS Wildlife Extension program
FWC biologists meet with landowners      offers many wildlife management
to recommend habitat improvement         programs for private landowners in
techniques and possibly offer            Florida. You should contact your
financial assistance.                    local county extension office or the              State Wildlife Specialist for further
ConservationYou_LAP_index.htm            information.
How do I find out more about the issues in this survey?
                                      –Survey respondent

Farm Bill Programs - The Natural         Private Landowner Virtual Network:
Resources Conservation Service 
and Farm Service Agency administer
many programs designed to                CONTACT INFORMATION: Please
assist landowners, groups, and           contact your regional FWC office by
communities with conservation and        phone or email. They can provide
maintenance of natural resources.        you with more information regarding
One of the most important programs       private lands programs and answer
is Conservation Technical Assistance     questions you may have. You can
(CTA) which helps landowners             e-mail the FWC private lands regional
develop a “whole farm plan.” To          coordinators here:
learn more about CTA and many            CONSERVATION/ConservationYou_
other Farm Bill Programs please visit:   LAP_contact.htm     Northwest Region
html                                     850-265-3676

Partners for Fish and Wildlife -         Southwest Region
Administered by the U.S. Fish and        863-648-3200
Wildlife Service, this program seeks
                                         North Central Region
to efficiently achieve voluntary
habitat restoration on private lands,
through financial and technical          South Region
assistance, for the benefit of Federal   561-625-5122
Trust Species.                    Northeast Region
Other useful links for landowners -
Florida Forest Steward Newsletter:       You can also contact your local      UF/IFAS County Extension office
forestry_information/additional_         or Bill Giuliano, the State Wildlife
pages/newsletter.html                    Specialist, for further information on
                                         these programs: 352-846-0575 or
Florida Invasive Species Partnership:    e-mail
Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences,
Millie Ferrer, Interim Director, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture,
publishes this information to further the purpose of the May 8 and June 30, 1914 Acts of
Congress; and is authorized to provide research, educational information and other services
only to individuals and institutions that function without discrimination with respect to race,
creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin,
political opinions or affiliations.

Copyright Information
This document is copyrighted by the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural
Sciences (UF/IFAS) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for the
people of the state of Florida. UF/IFAS and FWC retain all rights under conventions, but permits
free reproduction by all agents and offices of the Cooperative Extension Service, the FWC, and
the people of Florida. Permission is granted to others to use these materials in part or full
for educational purposes, provided that full credit is given to UF/IFAS and the FWC, citing the
publication, its source and date of publication.
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