Nokuse Plantation 53,000-acre Wildlife Preserve Houses Walton County's Gopher Tortoises
Gophers on the Go
Courtesy Matt Aresco/Nokuse Plantation
Good news for gopher tortoises displaced by development. They’ll now have new digs – literally – at the 53,000-acre wildlife preserve Nokuse Plantation in Walton County.
In a gesture of environmental friendliness, The St. Joe Company and The St. Joe Community Foundation have joined forces with the Humane Society of the United States, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Freeport-based Nokuse Plantation to relocate and rehabilitate gopher tortoises.
Courtesy The St. Joe Community Foundation
"Gopher tortoises are an important part of an environmental ecosystem in Northwest Florida. They build homes that support and encourage up to 350 other species of wildlife. At St. Joe we also see it as our responsibility to encourage and promote communities, so we are proud to support this worthwhile venture,” said Park Brady, CEO of The St. Joe Company. Officials say The St. Joe Company has a long history of responsible land and environment stewardship in Northwest Florida. The St. Joe Community Foundation provides vital funds to support this effort.
The relief effort was met with relief by Nokuse Plantation’s director, Matt Aresco.
"The gopher tortoise is considered a keystone species and is an essential part of our overall restoration of the longleaf pine sandhill ecosystem,” Aresco said. “We are grateful to be part of this unprecedented program between The St. Joe Community Foundation, The St. Joe Company, The Humane Society of the United States, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to relocate gopher tortoises from development sites throughout Florida to our preserve.”
Since its inception, The St. Joe Community Foundation has donated more than $18 million to charities and nonprofits in the Northwest Florida region. The Foundation has supported other environmental programs with Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center, South Walton Turtle Watch as well as environmental activities with local schools.