Current Projects


The Florida Strategic Plan for Sustaining Military Readiness through Conservation Partnerships

Principal Investigator: Tom Hoctor, University of Florida Center for Landscape Conservation Planning


The Florida Strategic Plan for Sustaining Military Readiness through Conservation Partnerships is a collaboration between several partners including the U.S. Air Force, Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC), US Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Florida, Florida Natural Areas Inventory, The Nature Conservancy, and the National Wildlife Refuge Association.

Initiated in early 2015, the goal of the Strategic Plan is to identify a regional natural resources management approach to help minimize encroachment threats to Air Force missions, while identifying partner-leveraged conservation opportunities throughout the state of Florida. This builds upon existing partnerships that already exist between the PFLCC, Air Force, and various other federal, state and non-governmental conservation organizations, as well as existing data and work such as the Critical Lands and Waters Identification Project (CLIP) and the Cooperative Conservation Blueprint. The intent is for the current Strategic Plan to be a pilot project, which may be expanded to include other regions and partnerships in the future. This is in keeping with the Air Force’s expressed interest in being a conservation partner at the regional and state levels, and in having Air Force conservation priorities included as part of regional and state conservation efforts.


Preliminary results indicate that there are ample opportunities to coordinate and cooperate in protecting conservation and military training and readiness priorities in the regional landscapes surrounding Air Force bases across Florida.


Landscape Conservation Design in Southwest Florida and the Florida Big Bend

Principal Investigator: Tom Hoctor, University of Florida Center for Landscape Conservation Planning


This project is a cooperative effort between the Center, National Wildlife Refuge Association, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to advance a new regional planning concept for the USFWS called Landscape Conservation Design (LCD). An LCD involves combining spatially explicit analysis of biodiversity and ecosystem service conservation priorities with stakeholder engagement and outreach to help determine priority strategies and actions. The results of these LCDs are intended to inform regional landscape-scale conservation and land use planning decisions both specifically for National Wildlife Refuges but also related policy processes for other government agencies, NGOs, and private landowners.


The Florida Wildlife Corridor Project


The Center is working with the Conservation Trust for Florida (CTF) and the Legacy Institute for Nature and Culture (LINC) on an education and outreach campaign highlighting the significant and pressing opportunity to protect wildlife corridors across the state of Florida.  The Florida Wildlife Corridor promotes the vision of an ecologically-connected network of public and private conservation lands eventually created throughout Florida, which was conceived of by Carlton Ward from LINC and developed in collaboration with Tom Hoctor. The Florida Wildlife Corridor project was developed to educate and advocate for the protection of the Florida Ecological Greenways Network, and specifically the Critical Linkages from south Florida to Georgia, though the other Critical Linkages from west-central Florida through the Florida panhandle might be added to these efforts in the future. 


In 2012, after two years in planning, the project debuted in the form of a 1000-mile, 100 day expedition from Florida Bay in Everglades National Park up the peninsula to Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southern Georgia. The trek was carried out by 4 Florida-based conservationists: photojournalist Carlton Ward, Jr., biologist Joe Guthrie, nature filmmaker Elam Stoltzfus, and conservationist Mallory Lykes Dimmitt.  A film about the expedition by Elam Stoltzfus was aired on PBS in April 2013 in Florida and in June 2013 nationally. 


In 2015 the team completed a new expedition highlighting an east to west corridor, starting in Central Florida, extending to the Gulf Coast, crossing the Big Bend and Panhandle, and concluding at the Alabama state line. A public outreach campaign is ongoing to share information about the wildlife corridor and its importance as a tool for reaching statewide conservation goals. For more information, go to


Critical Lands and Waters Identification Project (CLIP)
Principal Investigators: Tom Hoctor, University of Florida Center for Landscape Conservation Planning; Jon Oetting, Florida Natural Areas Inventory

The goal of CLIP is to identify Florida’s critical environmental resources, including strategic habitat, biodiversity hotspots, aquifer recharge areas and ecological greenways, using the best available science and statewide spatial data and to develop an iterative GIS database as a decision making tool for statewide and regional conservation and land use planning. This work is essential for ensuring the sustainability of Florida’s green infrastructure and vital ecosystem services as Florida’s population grows and land uses change. By identifying critical conservation needs, they can be incorporated into long term land use and conservation plans.

The latest version of CLIP was completed in 2016 and is available from the Florida Natural Areas Inventory website here. Additional updates are planned as funding is available.


St. Lucie River Watershed Water Farming Demonstration Project

Principal Investigator/Watershed Coordinator: Mary Oakley, University of Florida Center for Landscape Conservation Planning, with technical support from Tom Hoctor and Michael Spontak.


Through the  University of Florida Center for Landscape Conservation Planning  and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), Mary Oakley is  working in the role of Watershed Coordinator on a demonstration project in the St. Lucie River Watershed. The main purpose of the project is to field test the concept of Water Farming, or retaining large volumes of water on fallow citrus groves to help meet established goals for increasing surface water storage and reducing nutrient runoff in this east coast watershed located in Martin and St. Lucie Counties, which is part of the greater Northern Everglades region of Florida.

The SFWMD was awarded a Section 319 (EPA/Clean Water Act) matching grant through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for this three-year, three million dollar (total) project in which three water farming pilot projects will retain an estimated 15,000+ acre-feet of surface water per year that would otherwise contribute to the harmful stormwater discharges into the St. Lucie River, a major tributary of the Indian River Lagoon. Additionally, the three projects will collectively reduce nutrient discharges each year by an estimated 27,822 pounds of nitrogen, 6,641 pounds of phosphorous and 245,024 pounds of suspended solids. The water farming pilot sites range in size from 60 to 900 acres. The sites are managed and continuously monitored for water storage and water quality performance.

Partners in the demonstration project include the Indian River Citrus League, the Florida Farm Bureau Federation and the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program. Mary’s watershed coordinator role involves developing scenarios with partners for a potential regional expansion of water farming and exploring possible funding opportunities, including water quality credit trading with agriculture and other stakeholders in the context of the St. Lucie River and Estuary Basin Management Action Plan.


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