In This Issue:

What is FWLI - A Message from FWLI's new Program Leader

The Faces of Florida's Wildlife Legacy Initiative Program

New effort initiated to seek dedicated, sustainable funding for fish and wildlife

Encountering and counting Suwannee cooters

What is FWLI? - A message from FWLI's new Program Leader

With a name like "Florida's Wildlife Legacy Initiative" (FWLI), folks commonly ask what exactly we are all about. We could recite our mission statement, or point to our 665 page State Wildlife Action Plan, but that is often a bit too much for a typical elevator speech! Making it more complicated is the fact that we don't identify with a single species, habitat, system, or region of the state. By design, Florida's Wildlife Legacy Initiative works across many boundaries to enhance and integrate existing programs and coordinate critical conservation needs.

Our State Wildlife Action Plan is a comprehensive wildlife conservation strategy for all of Florida. That's an enormous undertaking, and with limited resources, priorities have to be established. That's where our five-year goals come in to direct our primary funding source - State Wildlife Grants. Currently, we set objectives in each of the major natural systems (terrestrial, freshwater, and marine), as well as species data gaps, plan revision, monitoring, and climate adaptation.

Florida's Wildlife Legacy Initiative is intended to be dynamic and adaptive. Revision of the State Wildlife Action Plan and our five-year goals provides opportunity for reflection, change, and fine-tuning of the approach. This is done with and alongside input from stakeholder, partners, and the public throughout the process. Thank you for your support! We look forward to building a lasting Wildlife Legacy with you.

-Brian Branciforte, FWLI Program Leader

The Faces of Florida's Wildlife Legacy Initiative Program

Since the last introduction to staff in the FWLI newsletter two years ago, a handful of staff shifted positions, and the program also gained a few new faces!

NEW! Florida State Wildlife Action Plan Coordinator - 


Please welcome Allie Perryman (picture on right) to FWLI as Florida's new State Wildlife Action Plan Coordinator! Allie received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Florida State University, and has filled various roles within the FWC over the past six years. Most recently, she served as the Local Government Coordinator for the Gopher Tortoise Conservation Program, where she worked with a wide variety of partners and college-level interns to enhance gopher tortoise conservation in Florida. Allie brings a wealth of knowledge and ambition given her background with species conservation, program coordination, outreach, facilitation, and partnership building. She will be located in Tallahassee with responsibilities statewide. You may reach her at Alexandra.Perryman@myfwc.com.


Project ideas for the next SWG funding cycle? Please share!

All FWLI Goal Teams are currently exploring project ideas to put forth in the next funding cycle (project start date: July 2016). If you have project ideas to implement one of the 5 FWLI goals, please contact the appropriate Goal Lead:

FWLI Contact web page


WLB = Wildlife Legacy Biologist


Brian Branciforte
FWLI Program Leader
(previously Action Plan


Andrea Alden
State Wildlife Grants Coordinator
(previously Marine WLB)


Jessica Graham
Northwest Region WLB
Freshwater Goal Lead -


Mary Truglio
South Region WLB
Marine Goal Lead


Ashley Ballou

North Central Region WLB
Data Gaps Goal Lead


Kevin Kemp
Southwest Region WLB
Freshwater Goal Lead -


Caroline Gorga
Species & Habitat
Monitoring WLB
(previously Data Gaps
Goal Lead)


Whitney Gray
Sea Level Rise Coordinator
Climate Change Objective Lead


Heather Hitt
Northeast Region WLB
Terrestrial Goal Lead


Robyn McDole
Assistant State Wildlife
Grants Coordinator


Twanisha Presley
Scientific Engineering Programmer
SWG Data Manager


FWLI Web Page - Updated!

Although a work in progress, check out the new look so far!


Update to come in the next year: Improved searchable online database for SWG-funded projects


Have questions about the program or the implementation goals? Please contact us!

New effort initiated to seek dedicated, sustainable funding for fish and wildlife!
Caroline Gorga, Wildlife Legacy Biologist

The Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America's Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources will convene its first meeting March 24-25 in Denver, CO. Organized by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies External Website (AFWA), the panel is looking to re-imagine a 21st century model of funding conservation that bridges the funding gap between game and non-game species and secure a future for diverse fish and wildlife and the economy."

Kevin Butt - General Manager and Chief Environmental Officer, Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, Inc. and Board Member, Wildlife Habitat Council

Jeff Crane - President, Congressional Sportsman's Foundation

John Doerr - President and CEO, Pure Fishing, Inc. and Board Member, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation

Jim Faulstich - Owner, Daybreak Ranch and Vice Chairman, Partners for Conservation

John Fitzpatrick - Director, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Co-Inventor, eBird

Greg Hill - President and CEO of Exploration and Production, Hess Corporation

Rebecca Humphries - Chief Conservation Officer, National Wild Turkey Federation

Dr. Stephen Kellert - Professor Emeritus of Social Ecology and Senior Research Scholar, Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Board Member, Bio-Logical Capital; Founding Partner, Environmental Capital Partners

Jennifer Mull - Chief Executive Officer, Backwoods Equipment, Inc. and Board Chair of the Outdoor Industry Association

John W. Newman - CFO and Treasurer, LLOG Exploration Company, LLC and Board Chairman, Ducks Unlimited

Michael Nussman - President and CEO, American Sportfishing Association

Margaret O'Gorman - President, Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) and Board Member, Stewardship Action Council

Glenn Olson - Donal O'Brien Chair in Bird Conservation and Public Policy, National Audubon Society (NAS) and Member, North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) Council and the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act Advisory Council

Collin O'Mara - President and CEO, National Wildlife Federation

Connie Parker - CEO and Founder, CSPARKERGROUP and Board Member, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the Wildlife Foundation of Florida

Charlie Potter - CEO, Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation and Founder and Chairman, Great Outdoors, LLC

Steve Sanetti - CEO, National Shooting Sports Foundation

Lynn Scarlett - Managing Director, Public Policy, The Nature Conservancy

John Tomke - President, Ducks Unlimited de Mexico and Chair, Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council

Jeff Trandahl - CEO, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Dr. James Walker - Vice Chairman of the Board, EDF Renewable Energy and Board Member, American Wind Energy Association

Dr. Steve Williams - President, Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) and Board President, National Conservation Leadership Institute; Board Member, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Bob Ziehmer - Director, Missouri Department of Conservation


Burrowing owl - one of Florida's 60 state-listed species
Courtesy of Patrick Delaney, FWC

The Blue Ribbon Panel is co-chaired by Dave Freudenthal, former Governor of Wyoming, and John L. Morris, Founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops. The other 23 panelists represent the outdoor recreation retail and manufacturing sector, conservation organizations, sportsmen's groups, and the energy industry (see list to left).

Over the past three decades, the conservation community has worked tirelessly to secure dedicated funding for imperiled species and their habitats, but all attempts have been unsuccessful (see AFWA's White Paper on the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America's Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources External Website). In 2001, Congress authorized the development of the State Wildlife Grant Program External Website to fund conservation actions that would prevent new endangered species listings. Although this funding source is annually apportioned (and therefore never guaranteed from year to year), each state and U.S. territory has used the funds to create and implement their State Wildlife Action Plans (Action Plan). For success stories, see AFWA's State Wildlife Grants Success Stories Report External Website.

Recently, the number of petitions for federal endangered species listing increased by 1,000%, and the State Wildlife Grant Program has been cut by 35%. The Blue Ribbon Panel will spend 2015 identifying both Congressional policy options and funding opportunities to conserve all fish and wildlife.



Information on the Blue Ribbon Panel External Website.

Florida's State Wildlife Action Plan and State Wildlife Grants program.




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Encountering and counting Suwannee cooters
Ashley Ballou, Wildlife Legacy Biologist
Anna Deyle, Assistant Regional Species Conservation Biologist, Northeast Region

It has been decades since the Suwannee cooter has been officially documented in some areas of Florida, with the last survey of this species in the Weeki Wachee River dating back to 1952 and the last sightings in the Crystal River recorded in 1928.


Juvenile Suwannee cooter basking on a log in
Crystal River, FL.
Courtesy of Ashley Ballou, FWC


Peninsula cooter, Suwannee cooter and Florida
red-bellied cooter basking together on a log in the
Weeki Wachee River, FL
Courtesy of Karen Parker, FWC

Ashley Ballou and Anna Deyle, biologists with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), updated the information about this species during the summer and fall of 2014. The Suwannee cooter (Pseudemys concinna suwanniensis), a subspecies of the river cooter (Pseudemys concinna), inhabits Florida rivers draining into the Gulf of Mexico ranging from the Ochlocknee River in the central Panhandle to the Alafia River, as well as river-associated habitats such as impoundments.

The Suwannee cooter is currently designated as a Species of Special Concern on Florida’s Threatened and Endangered Species list, as well as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need Adobe PDF (SGCN) in Florida. This species is scheduled to be removed from the list, but the Suwannee Cooter Species Action Plan and the agency’s newly drafted Imperiled Species Management Plan provide conservation and management actions in support of keeping the species from returning to the list in the future.

Obtaining new data about this and other SGCN is a high priority need identified in Florida's State Wildlife Action Plan. The Suwannee cooter was originally listed as threatened in the state of Florida in 1975. The listing status of this cooter was changed to Species of Special Concern in 1979, and has remained as SSC since then. River cooters are protected under Rule 68A-25.002(6), Florida Administrative Code External Website, which limits take and possession of this species. However, there is evidence that large numbers of these turtles are being harvested illegally. Other threats to this species are pollution, predation, impacts related to motor boating and habitat alteration such as impoundments, channel dredging and snag removal.

The FWC biologists addressed a specific action within the Suwannee Cooter Species Action Plan: survey the Weeki Wachee and Crystal rivers to see if they contained populations. Armed with binoculars, staff paddled kayaks down rivers, from August to October 2014, searching for cooters on banks and other basking locations. Everywhere a turtle was spotted, researchers recorded the GPS location and information such as the turtle's sex and age class.

Ashley Ballou and Anna Deyle, FWC biologists,
take photos of a Suwannee cooter.
Courtesy of Brooke Talley, FWC.

The study was successful at finding Suwannee cooters in both rivers, with one case of eight turtles basking together on the same rock. Juveniles were also identified, a sign that the population may be sustainable in these areas.

Knowing Suwannee cooters today can be found along the Weeki Wachee and Crystal rivers, FWC biologists are now ready to focus on the next steps of making sure these turtles continue to thrive there.

For more photos on MyFWC's  Flickr site: Suwannee Turtle Survey External Website

Information on conservation measures for freshwater turtles

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Buy a Conservation License Plate and Show Your Support for Florida's Wildlife!

For more information about the following five conservation license plates, please visit the BuyAPlate program website External Website.

Left to Right: Conserve Wildlife (FWC), Go Fishing (FWC), Helping Sea Turtles Survive (FWC & the Sea Turtle Conservancy), Protect the Panther (FWC), and Save the Manatee (FWC)

The Buy A Plate Program is managed for the FWC by the Wildlife Foundation of Florida External Website.

Share how you are implementing the State Wildlife Action Plan!

To share how you are implementing Florida's State Wildlife Action Plan in Legacy's Newsletter, please contact Caroline Gorga.

If you are not currently receiving FWLI's e-mails, please sign up!

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FWC Facts:
Approximately 1.7 million acres of Florida's remaining natural areas have been invaded by nonindigenous plant species, which have degraded and diminished our ecosystem.

Learn More at AskFWC