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New funding for Apalachicola basin, at-risk species

Photo courtesy National Audubon Society
Photo courtesy National Audubon Society

The Apalachicola River Basin in Florida's Panhandle is getting new help.

It's one of the recipients of $370 million for conservation announced Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Some of the money will also go to Florida's threatened and endangered species like the gopher tortoise, Florida panther and Florida grasshopper sparrow.

Eric Draper of Audubon Florida says what makes the funding significant is that it's aimed at private lands. He says that's where many of these species are located.

"These ranchers can't afford to do the type of plans and changes in the habitat that are going to help the species, and so a little bit of money will go a long way with these private landowners."

The Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint rivers are at the center of a bitter water dispute among Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Water quality problems in Florida's Panhandle have damaged the region's oyster industry, a backbone of the economy.

The money is for 115 projects nationwide. Local partners will provide matching funding.

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.