Rich in biodiversity, the Panhandle is a unique part of Florida.
This 11,000 square mile area has the highest stream density in the state, and includes three of Florida’s five largest rivers. With agricultural and timber economies in the interior, significant federal and state ownership in forests and military bases, and resort development pressures on the coast, the region is just beginning to feel the effects of sprawl and habitat fragmentation.
In each of its three eco-regions–the Gulf Coastal Plain, Apalachicola Bay, and Red Hills–change is coming. Two of the fastest growing counties in the Gulf Coastal Plain, Okaloosa and Walton, face coastal development, accelerated erosion, and sprawl which threaten the natural sandhill community and longleaf pine/wiregrass ecosystem that remain here.
In the Apalachicola Eco-Region, the Apalachicola Bay supports 90 percent of Florida’s commercial oyster fishery and one third of the shrimp harvest – it continues to be threatened by increased water demands from the Atlanta metro area and from impacts from upland farming areas in Georgia and Alabama.
The Red Hills/St. Marks River Eco-Region is threatened by continuing population growth in the Tallahassee-Thomasville urban areas. Urban growth is projected to be significant in this portion of the eco-region and has begun to impact adjacent counties.
1000 Friends of Florida works to protect the region’s significant natural lands and distinct sense of place while promoting compatible, sustainable economic development. This is accomplished through improving the capacity of local and regional leaders and citizens, enhanced land use planning, and coalition building.
Information by 1000 Friends of Florida:
Ecosystem Services and Land Conservation in the Red Hills Region of Florida (2013) — This PowerPoint presentation by Tall Timbers Planning Coordinator Neil Fleckenstein, AICP, features information on Tall Timbers’ model land conservation easement program and the recent study, Valuing Ecosystem Services in the Red Hills Region of Southwest Georgia and North Florida. It was presented at 1000 Friends’ February 13, 2013 Dr. John M. DeGrove Community Steward Webinar.
Social, economic, and cultural factors that influence community support for coastal conservation (2008) – This 1000 Friends of Florida report looks at Carrabelle, Florida, and similar coastal communities.
Military base encroachment issues and planning (2005) – Military base encroachment is a major issue in the Florida panhandle and this article by 1000 Friends of Florida outlines key planning tools. See updated article
Saving special places: A citizen’s guide to protecting natural resources in Florida’s Panhandle (2004) – Prepared by 1000 Friends of Florida, this guide includes planning strategies to protect natural resources, and success stories in the Florida Panhandle.
Valuing ecosystem services in the Red Hills of Southwest Georgia and North Florida (2012) – Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy quantifies some of the values of ecosystem services in North Florida and South Georgia.
The value of agricultural lands and open space in the Red Hills Region of Southwest Georgia and North Florida (2004) – This cost of services study was prepared on behalf of Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy, 1000 Friends of Florida, The Georgia Conservancy, and The Conservation Fund.
Jackson County sustainable tourism plan (2006) – This plan evolved out of Jackson County’s desire to expand its tourism industry as a means of offering its residents more opportunities for economic activity and an avenue for community development.
Regional transportation links:
Regional planning links:
Local government contacts:
Panhandle citizen groups and resources:
Apalachee Audubon Society (Tallahassee and the Big Bend)
Choctawhatchee Audubon Society (Okaloosa and Walton counties)
Francis M. Weston Audubon Society (Pensacola)
The County Record (Calhoun County)
Daily News (Northwest Florida)