These 3,279 acres in Okeechobee County belong to the Larson family, who span 75 years and three generations of ranching in Florida. Rancher and naturalist Woody Larson purchased it primarily as conservation land, and secondarily to use as a working cattle ranch. It is part of the St. Lucie River Estuary basin and contains cypress swamps, mixed hardwood forests, and pastureland. Both of its creek systems empty into drainage canals that flow into the North St. Lucie River.
Larson has seen many game species on the property, including white-tailed deer, wild hogs, turkey, and quail. He’s also seen wood storks, rose spoonbills and bald eagles. His son and co-owner of the property, Travis Barton, has captured footage of panthers on his game cameras. Some of their neighbors hope to earn conservation easements as well, Larson says, which will help to further insulate the corridor.
“I’m really pleased that our legislature is looking at funding more conservation easements,” says Larson. “I think if Florida is going to remain what we remember and what we think of as Florida, we need to protect these areas.”