OSPREY, FL (July 9, 2019) Cornell Lab of Ornithology awarded a $20,000 grant to Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast to conserve and restore habitat for the threatened Florida scrub jay. The restoration will occur on Conservation Foundation’s recently protected 38-acre Tatum Sawgrass Scrub Preserve in eastern Manatee County, a critical wildlife corridor that is experiencing rapid development.
In a dynamic partnership with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Conservation Foundation will restore this land to create scrub jay habitat, creating an essential stepping-stone between Sarasota County and Manatee County scrub jay populations. Scrub jays are regularly sighted within four miles. Trails will also be created for guided tours.
The acquisition and restoration of this property fits within a larger effort. The Florida scrub jay is nearing local extinction – or “extirpation” as it’s called – within Sarasota County, due to isolation and inbreeding. Only by maintaining connections to other populations, and periodically receiving “new blood”, will the birds survive. Local partners are forming a plan to protect and restore “stepping stone” properties linking South Venice Lemon Bay Preserve to Oscar Scherer State Park, and Oscar Scherer State Park to Duette Preserve in Manatee County. Cornell Lab has generously provided a lead gift in the effort.
“We are grateful to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for investing in one of our key land conservation priorities, to protect and restore Florida’s most imperiled species and places,” states Christine Johnson, president of Conservation Foundation. “The iconic Florida scrub jay is beloved and its habitat, Florida scrub, is quickly disappearing due to development.”
The centerpiece of Conservation Foundation’s work is the creation of the Myakka Island Conservation Corridor, a conserved landscape of more than 110,000 acres. The corridor is essential for the protection of wildlife habitat, the recovery of the endangered Florida panther, and to protect clean coastal water. Because of support from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and membership donations, Conservation Foundation is able to save the most threatened and valuable places.
About Cornell Lab of Ornithology
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s website at http://www.birds.cornell.edu.
About Conservation Foundation
Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast saves land, forever, protecting those special natural lands that make this region extraordinary. Working with landowners, businesses, and government, Conservation Foundation protects the character and natural integrity of the bays, beaches, barrier islands and their watersheds on Florida’s Gulf Coast. A nationally accredited land trust, the Foundation purchases natural areas, holds land conservation agreements and educates the community for responsible land and water stewardship in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, and Collier County. Learn more at www.conservationfoundation.com.