State Partners Collaborate to Enhance Water Quality, Provide Hunter-Safety Education

December 4, 2014

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the South Florida Water Management District and Florida Department of Environmental Protection recently closed on the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area/M-O Canal/Water Management Project and the Mecca Public Shooting Park site in Palm Beach County.

The district can now proceed with the project for flood control, waterway improvement and hydrological restoration and enhancement. Much of the hydrology of the area and surrounding topography was altered in the 1960s by historic drainage and water improvement projects. However, subsequent research and study supports the importance of natural hydrology to restore and maintain the natural functions ofthe ecosystem.

Under the direction of Governor Rick Scott, the SFWMD convened a multi-agency working group in September 2012 to develop a plan for strengthening the M-O Canal in an effort to meet current standards and to improve flood protection and safety to the residents in the surrounding areas.

“This project required multi-agency coordination, which is imperative today,” said Director of DEP’s Division of State Lands Kelley Boree. “The teamwork will allow us to move forward with this important water quality project that will have tremendous impacts to native flora and fauna and provide public access in a densely populated area of our state.”

Additionally, FWC may proceed with the development of a public shooting park in Palm Beach County on the 150-acre Mecca Farms site. The facility will provide hunter-safety educational programs, training and recreational benefits. The proposed shooting park will address the need for a public recreational shooting facility in the region and provide a venue for other shooting sports events.

“The successful closing of this project demonstrates excellent collaboration for multiple public benefits including improved wildlife habitat, important water management facilities, and a much-needed venue for shooting sports and hunter education,” said Nick Wiley, Executive Director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “We are especially thankful for the efforts of Palm Beach County, the South Florida Water Management District, the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida and our shooting sports partners for making it possible to begin development of a state-of-the-art public outdoor shooting park that will provide hunters and shooters of all ages a safe and convenient place to practice marksmanship skills.”

FWC is proposing to develop the public shooting park facility utilizing funding from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration and Hunter Safety Grant program as well as generous support from the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida.

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