ARCADIA, Fla. — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is recognizing what they call the "outstanding wildlife habitat management efforts" of a DeSoto County man.
Keenan Baldwin owns Stolen Saddle Ranch in Arcadia, which provides a habitat for many native species including white-tailed deer, bobwhite quail, wild turkeys and gopher tortoises.
The 11,000-acre ranch is also in the process of becoming permitted as a recipient site for gopher tortoises impacted by development.
According to the FWC's announcement, Baldwin acquired the ranch in February 2020. He and his staff have worked quickly to improve the wildlife habitat quality by restoring large expanses of dry prairie, a rare and declining habitat type across the state.
Over 95% of the ranch is currently protected from development through a conservation easement with the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
The FWC says private land plays a critical role in wildlife conservation. "While public land protects many species of wildlife, these properties form a fragmented landscape of habitat," the commission said in a statement. "Private lands connect these islands of public conservation land and provide critical habitat linkages and corridors necessary for many species to thrive."