Trust for Public Land Partners with USFWS to Establish new Everglades to Gulf Conservation Area

Trust for Public Land (TPL) facilitated a donation of nearly 7 acres of land in Hardee County from Paul Gray, owner of Gray Ranch, to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the establishment of the Everglades to Gulf Conservation Area.

The goal of the conservation area is to allow the USFWS to maintain working lands and provide wildlife-dependent public recreation opportunities, as well as opportunities for cultural, traditional, and medicinal uses for Florida’s Indigenous communities.

The proposed Everglades to Gulf Conservation Area would protect species and improve their resiliency in the face of climate change and extreme development pressures.

The donated land is located within the designated Florida Wildlife Corridor and is connected to a broad swath of existing and planned conservation lands located in south central Florida. The Crested Caracara, protected as a Threatened species by the Federal Endangered Species Act, is known to occur on-site and wetlands on the property provide valuable habitat for numerous species wading birds and waterfowl.

“Trust for Public Land was proud to assist the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the initial land donation to secure establishment of this significant new conservation area,” said Doug Hattaway, Southeast Region Conservation Director for Trust for Public Land. “The Everglades to Gulf Conservation Area will provide a wide array of public benefits from critical resource protection to increased equitable outdoor public recreation.”

TPL worked diligently with landowner Paul Gray to facilitate the initial donation needed to establish the refuge and the organization looks forward to continuing efforts for further acquisition in the area.

“Growing up, my brothers and cousins and I would hunt and fish and camp which gave me a basic appreciation of the outdoors, but seeing the migration of thousands of snow geese at Loess Bluffs NWR near our home in Kansas City burned into me how spectacular nature was,” said landowner Paul Gray. “An important thing to me about National Wildlife Refuges is you don’t have to be rich or privileged to be able to go enjoy these spectacular resources. When I learned I could help add to the refuge system effort, it was a no brainer – I have come full circle. This space will be something that burns into another kid’s brain how special Florida is, and how special our resources are.”

TPL has partnered with the USFWS on nearly 70 conservation projects across the country, protecting 410,000 acres for wildlife management and outdoor recreation. TPL’s first conservation project with the Service was the Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuge, a group of 4 Wildlife Refuges in the Florida Keys.

About Trust for Public Land

Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,364 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.4 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit