Cooperatove Conservation Project

Northwest Florida Greenway Project

Non-traditional Partners Work Together to Connect Protected Areas

Location: Southeastern Region: Florida

Project Summary: Military, government and nonprofit organizations partner to protect the Panhandle’s unique natural resources, economy, and military flyways.
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Jets over Greenway corridor-flyways for military testing and training operations require low population density corridors
Resource Challenge
The Nature Conservancy named the rich landscape of northwest  Florida’s Panhandle one of the Nation’s six “biodiversity hotspots.”  Known for its natural beauty, the region is under intense  development pressure that could permanently alter the natural  resources and encroach upon local military operations.
The million-acre Apalachicola National Forest and the million-acre  region including Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), Blackwater River  State Forest, and Conecuh National Forest are already protected  from development. A corridor connecting the two protected areas  is needed to sustain the region’s rich biodiversity and preserve the  historic military flyway routes.
The project was funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Florida  Defense Alliance, the Jelks Family Foundation and others.  The Nature  Conservancy, contacted Eglin AFB, and a partnership with mutual goals was born to create the connecting corridor.  The project was launched with Florida’s outstanding $300 million  per year land acquisition program. When completed, the Greenway  project will connect extensive forests stretching from southern  Alabama to Florida’s Big Bend, a forest system of more than three  million acres.  
Examples of Key Partners
The Nature Conservancy, the Florida Department Environmental Protection, Florida Department of Community Affairs, Florida  Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida  Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Northwest Florida Water Management District, Okaloosa County, U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), USDI Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service, and others 
Results and Accomplishments
  • A Memorandum of Partnership with the State of Florida, DOD, and The Nature Conservancy was signed in November 2003.

  • A Memorandum of Agreement involving additional partners and  setting objectives was signed in July 2004.

  • During the last twenty years, Florida has protected 100,686 acres of conservation land within the Greenway with fee simple acquisition or conservation easements.

  • Currently, 152,523 acres in the Greenway are pending acquisition as projects on the Florida Forever List. 

  • In 2004, DOD contributed $1 million to support the acquisition  of buffer lands immediately east of Eglin AFB.

  • Legislation for innovative land use planning and increased communication between local governments and the military has been adopted by the Florida legislature.

  • Cooperative management of the protected areas was  implemented.

Varied needs of non-traditional partners were met by working for a common goal, creating a greenway to connect two tracts of protected land, each more than one million acres in size

Project Contact
Debbie Keller
Northwest Florida Greenway Project Coordinator
The Nature Conservancy, Florida Chapter

Ms. Mollie Palmer
Deputy Chief of Staff
Florida Department of Environmental Protection


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