To the Editor:
The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast recently received two $15,000 grants from Gulf Coast Community Foundation. These grants were made possible through the Katherine Naismith Witten Fund at Gulf Coast Community Foundation. Both grants support Conservation Foundation’s land management and restoration programs on their protected lands, with a specific focus on improving wildlife habitat and increasing climate resiliency.
Gulf Coast Community Foundation is a true champion of Southwest Florida’s natural environment. We are deeply grateful to them and the Katherine Naismith Witten Fund for continuing to invest in our mission and the future of our region.
Through a variety of techniques, Conservation Foundation works to ensure the land they protect is well managed for the benefit of people and nature. Most often this includes practices such as native tree planting, exotic plant removal and prescribed fire.
The planting of native trees and plants provides significant benefits to wildlife by increasing access to food and shelter. This year alone, Conservation Foundation planted thousands of trees along the Myakka River. Trees planted on the shores of rivers, lakes and creeks shade the water, thereby decreasing water temperature, increasing oxygen and improving fish habitat. Additionally, shoreline plantings help to improve water quality and stabilize shorelines by capturing sediment and reducing erosion.
The reintroduction of fire to landscapes is also a critical practice on land where fire should naturally occur. In Florida, almost every natural community benefits from fire. When natural fires do not occur, old branches and leaves accumulate, becoming fuel for catastrophic, uncontrolled wildfires that place people and wildlife at risk. By routinely burning land through a practice called ‘prescribed fire,’ Conservation Foundation and other land management organizations help protect our community by decreasing wildfire risk.
Conservation Foundation’s work also increases our community’s resilience to the increasingly intense storms and floods caused by our changing climate. Land conservation in itself is a powerful tool and our best natural defense against flooding. Protecting floodplains, coastal marshes, prairies and forests provides places for water to be naturally stored and absorbed, now and in the future. Benefits to the community increase when protected land is also responsibly managed and restored through practices such as Conservation Foundation’s tree-planting initiatives.
We are proud to continue to support Conservation Foundation’s important work that benefits our people, economy and environment. Because of their longstanding and unwavering support of preserving our natural environment, they are working to ensure a brighter future for generations to come.
Sam Valentin, CDMP, PCM® (she/her/hers)
Director of Marketing and Events
Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast
400 Palmetto Avenue, P.O. Box 902, Osprey, FL