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FWC recognizes DeSoto County landowner for wildlife conservation efforts

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recently recognized the outstanding wildlife habitat management efforts of Keenan Baldwin as part of the agency’s Wildlife Habitat Recognition Program. Baldwin owns Stolen Saddle Ranch in Arcadia, an 11,441-acre working ranch that provides quality habitat for many native species including white-tailed deer, bobwhite quail, wild turkeys and gopher tortoises. The ranch is also in the process of becoming permitted as a recipient site for gopher tortoises impacted by development. 

Baldwin acquired the ranch in February 2020, and he and his dedicated staff quickly set to work implementing a variety of practices to benefit wildlife including extensive brush management, prescribed burning and invasive plant control. In the two years since he acquired the ranch, Baldwin and his staff have made remarkable progress in improving the wildlife habitat quality including restoring large expanses of Florida dry prairie, a rare and declining habitat type across the state.

Over 95% of the ranch is currently protected from development through a conservation easement with the Southwest Florida Water Management District, with the goal of protecting natural environments in the Peace River watershed. Ranch operations are supported through a variety of income sources including cattle production, sod production, cabbage palm harvests, palmetto berry harvests and native seed production.

Private and public lands provide the habitat necessary to maintain sustainable wildlife populations. The efforts of private landowners in managing their own land to benefit wildlife and their habitat complements the efforts of public agencies and is critical to ensure that future generations have the opportunity to experience and enjoy wildlife in their native habitat. Without private landowner efforts, countless plant and animal species would be at risk of significant population declines, which could result in them becoming listed on state or federal threatened and endangered species lists.

To show appreciation for the work done by landowners to conserve our state’s wildlife habitat, the FWC’s Landowner Assistance Program created the Wildlife Habitat Recognition Program, formally honoring landowners by awarding them with a sign to display on their property and a certificate recognizing their habitat conservation efforts.

Private lands play a critical role in wildlife conservation by protecting and restoring rare habitats, such as the longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystem, and by managing farms, ranches and forests that provide habitat to many species. While public land protects many species of wildlife, these properties form a fragmented landscape of habitat. Private lands connect these islands of public conservation land and provide critical habitat linkages and corridors necessary for many species to thrive.

FWC’s Landowner Assistance Program offers a written management plan to guide landowners interested in working toward meeting the requirements for the Wildlife Habitat Recognition Program. Interested landowners of 20 acres or more can apply online. For more information, visit MyFWC.com/LAP and click on “Landowner Recognition Programs.”

FWC Landowner Assistance Program biologists provide technical assistance to private landowners, helping them develop management plans for their property that maximize benefits to wildlife and people. These biologists can also assist with finding financial assistance to complete important habitat restoration projects on private lands. To learn more about this program or to find help and resources for managing wildlife on your property, check out our “Wildlife and Habitat Assistance” section online at, MyFWC.com/LAP or call your FWC Regional Office and ask to speak to a LAP biologist.