Wild Turkey Cost Share Program
About the Program
Wild Turkey Cost Share projects maintain and improve wild turkey habitat on wildlife management areas across the state that are open to turkey hunting. Through this program, the FWC, the Florida Forest Service, and the Florida State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation pool their resources along with grant funding from the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida to improve wild turkey habitat on public lands.
Cost share habitat projects are conducted on wildlife management areas, state forests, water management district lands, national forests, and national wildlife refuges. Projects include prescribed burning, upland restoration, mulching, roller chopping, chemical treatments, and mowing on public lands in Florida. These activities improve habitat for wild turkeys and many other wildlife species as well including red-cockaded woodpeckers, gopher tortoises, and indigo snakes.
Since the Wild Turkey Cost Share Program began in 1994, it has contributed over $6 million to habitat management projects. The first year of the program, $15,000 was available to fund six habitat projects. Today, cost share funding is over $400,000 a year with a total program value of nearly $2 million annually when in-kind match is included.
Turkey hunters are an important part of the Cost Share program. The money generated from the sale of turkey permits, which are required to hunt wild turkeys in Florida (unless exempt), allows the FWC to make significant contributions to the program each year.
Wild Turkey Cost Share Program in Action!
The following before and after photos below show the outstanding results of Wild Turkey Cost Share projects. The goal of these projects is to convert habitat that is virtually unusable by wild turkeys into habitat preferred by wild turkeys and other upland wildlife. Most of the work accomplished through these types of projects is maintained by periodic prescribed fire.
Twin Rivers WMA – Blue Springs Unit
Twin Rivers WMA – Blue Springs Unit, a Florida Forest Service property in Hamilton County, received a habitat makeover, thanks to funding from the Wild Turkey Cost Share Program. A 102-acre area was treated with prescribed fire followed by heavy woods mowing to control resprouting hardwoods. This created open lands, one of several habitat types important to wild turkeys and other wildlife, including species that aren’t hunted.
Little River WMA
This 490-acre habitat improvement project is being being conducted at Little River WMA, which is a Suwannee River Water Management District property. It's a multi-year project that began with timber thinning followed by chemical treatment to prevent hardwood resprouting. The final phase was applying prescribed fire.
The partnerships fostered during this project produced other benefits such as habitat improvement initiatives with other water management districts. It also led to the FWC, the Suwannee River Water Management District, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the local NWTF chapter collaborating to host an annual mentored wild turkey hunt for youth at this WMA.
Fort Drum WMA
As part of the Wild Turkey Cost Share Program, wildlife managers at Fort Drum WMA improved wild turkey habitat and hunter access there by roller chopping 145 acres. The dramatic improvements at this St. John’s River Water Management District property will be maintained with regular prescribed fire. Fort Drum hosts one of FWC’s special-opportunity turkey hunts.
Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
A Wild Turkey Cost Share project was conducted at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge to remove a monoculture of cabbage palm. Through the Wild Turkey Cost Share program, $110,000 was provided to the assist the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with selective chemical and prescribed fire treatments. Today, this area features excellent habitat for wild turkeys and many other species. In addition, the project opened the door for allowing spring wild turkey hunts for the first time at the Florida Panther NWR.