The 556th unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System has been established in central Florida. The Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area protects one of the last remaining grassland and longleaf pine savanna landscapes in eastern North America.

Two–thirds of the acreage—100,000 acres north of Lake Okeechobee—will be protected through conservation easements purchased from willing sellers. With easements, private landowners retain ownership of their land, as well as the ability to continue farming or ranching the land. The easements ensure the land could not be subdivided or developed.

“This is an outstanding example of the 21st century approach to conservation envisioned by President Obama when he unveiled his America’s Great Outdoors initiative last year,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “Working in close partnership with landowners, we are taking a major step to safeguard the long–term health of the Everglades in the Kissimmee Valley, while ensuring the area’s ranching and farming heritage and economy remain strong.”