This year District volunteers will take part in the 14th Annual National Public Lands Day, a yearly opportunity for Americans to improve and enhance the public lands they enjoy. The event, which is Saturday, Sept. 29, is the nation’s largest hands-on volunteer effort. District staff and volunteers will be conducting a beach cleanup at the District’s Piney Point Tract, which is located in southern Hillsborough County. For more information and to learn how you can participate, contact Cindy Hausman, District land use specialist, at 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4482. The District’s Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Program is also coordinating a volunteer event on Sept. 29. SWIM staff is planning a marsh grass planting with Tampa Bay Watch, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at the state’s Terra Ceia Preserve in Manatee County. The partners expect 350 volunteers. For more information and to learn how you can participate, contact Tampa Bay Watch at (727) 867-8166.
Visit District Land
The District owns more than 330,000 acres of public lands. These lands are acquired by the District and its partners to protect Florida’s water resources. More than two million people visit District lands each year to enjoy a variety of recreational opportunities such as bird watching, biking, boating, canoeing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, hunting and picnicking. To learn more about these opportunities, visit the District’s web site at WaterMatters.org/recreation to view or order a free copy of the District’s recreation guide. The guide can also be ordered by contacting the District’s Land Use and Protection Section at 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4470.
Public Lands by the Numbers — Did you know?
- One-third of America’s 600 million acres of land is in public hands. While these lands protect water quality, conserve water and provide fish and wildlife habitat, they also provide a place for people to hike, bike, hunt, fish, climb, swim, explore or just relax.
- One-fourth of Florida’s 34,721,280 acres are conservation lands managed by local, state or federal agencies.
- The District manages more than 278,000 acres of land, which was acquired by the District and its partners to protect Florida’s water resources. More than 330,000 acres are open to the public for a variety of recreational activities. The remaining are in private ownership but are protected through conservation easements.
- Each year more than two million people visit District lands.
- According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, federal, state and local governments spend approximately $120 billion annually on the control and impact of more than 800 invasive plant and animal species that pose a threat to the environment, agricultural production, the economy and human health.
- The District controls approximately 20 different invasive plant species on District-owned lands and approximately six different invasive aquatic plant species on lakes, rivers and canals.
- The District spends between $300,000 and $400,000 annually to control invasive upland species that pose a threat to the District’s lands.
- The District spends approximately $700,000 annually to control invasive aquatic plants on lakes and rivers under the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Cooperative Aquatic Plant Control Program.
- In addition to the annually budgeted funds, last year the District spent approximately $130,000 treating mostly invasive species in the District’s flood-control systems, such as the Tampa Bypass Canal and the Peace Creek Canal.
- The District also removes invasive plants as part of SWIM Program restoration projects and in conjunction with Florida Department of Transportation projects.
- In 2006 approximately 100,000 volunteers participated in National Public Lands Day, which represents $1.8 million worth of labor.
- During 2006 more than 500 volunteers spent thousands of hours helping the District maintain and improve public lands, as well as restore Tampa Bay.