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Make a Donation to the Wildlife Foundation of Florida and help protect the gopher tortoise

The Gopher Tortoise Habitat Fund was established by a private donor to help further the FWC's management plan to protect the threatened gopher tortoise. You can also help conserve the gopher tortoise! Donations will help obtain gopher tortoise habitat and assist with the cost of land-management activities needed to maintain suitable living and foraging conditions.

Recipient site certification benefits both the gopher tortoise and landowners

Private landowners can play a key role in helping conserve and restore gopher tortoise habitat and several elements of the plan are of direct interest to private landowners. One exciting element is the opportunity for landowners to have their land certified as a gopher tortoise recipient site. Recipient sites are where tortoises displaced by development will be relocated under a new permitting system created under the management plan.  Landowners that have their properties certified as recipient sites may receive financial compensation from the donor site owner (such as a developer).

The objective of the recipient site program is to provide the highest level of long-term security for the gopher tortoise and its habitat on certified recipient sites. Recipient sites will be evaluated based on tortoise habitat attributes, such as those containing well drained soils, open or sparse tree canopy, or a healthy groundcover of herbaceous plants.

Recipient sites will require active management to ensure that habitat continues to remain suitable for the gopher tortoise. To assist with this management, the FWC coordinates internally with its landowner assistance programs to enhance the application of these programs on appropriate privately owned uplands for gopher tortoise conservation.

Technical and financial assistance is available for several habitat management activities (e.g., prescribed burning, vegetation management). If you are interested in applying to have your land certified as a gopher tortoise recipient site, or are interested in learning more about the gopher tortoise management plan, please contact the gopher tortoise conservation biologist in your region.

The new permitting guidelines that include the full description on gopher tortoise recipient sites are available for download at Applications for recipient site permits are currently being accepted.