Monday, November 2, 2009

State's Babcock Ranch receives grazing award

Babcock Ranch has received an award for grazing practices at the 73,476-acre state preserve in Collier and Charlotte counties.

The Florida Section of the Society for Range Management announced that Babcock Ranch, which is operated as a private ranch on state land, will receive the first Grazing Lands Stewardship Award, according to the state agriculture officials.

This award, given jointly by the society and the Florida Grazing Lands Coalition, recognizes outstanding contributions to the ranching community in the areas of grazing and wildlife management.

"It is especially gratifying that Babcock Ranch has been chosen for this award," Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said in a statement. "The accomplishment of producing an outstanding ranching operation while providing enhanced wildlife habitat for unique South Florida wildlife is an example of outstanding public private partnership."

The governor and Cabinet in 2005 agreed to buy Babcock Ranch for $350 million and to allow it to be operated privately as a cattle ranch with wilderness adventure tours and limited public access.

Supporters said the purchase would enhance the wildlife and aesthetic values of Florida ranch lands with sustainable management goals.

"This ranch is designed to show the look of old cracker cattle operation, while using the best ecological techniques from the 21st century," Bronson said.

To read a copy of the ranch's management plan, approved by state wildlife and forestry officials, click here. To learn more about the Babcock Ranch purchase, click here.

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