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Publication #WEC 193

Improving, Restoring, and Managing Natural Resources in Florida: Sources of Technical Assistance for Urban Homeowners 1

Mark Hostetler, Martin Main, and Chris Demers2

Introduction

Over the last decade approximately 100,000 new single-family, detached homes have been built annually in Florida, making it one of the most active areas of new residential community development in the United States. In the face of this rapid growth, many Florida communities are looking for support in how to preserve (and even enhance) their local quality of life. Collectively, urban communities can greatly affect our natural resources.

Decisions made by each homeowner interact in unique ways to affect the use and conservation of water, energy, and our plants and animals. The quantity and quality of water, wildlife habitat, and energy are closely tied to one another. For example, planting several native trees near a house can have several positive impacts. First, native trees provide food for wildlife. Second, they provide shade for the house to conserve energy. Plus, they conserve water because native trees are adapted to the local climate and do not need much watering. As a result, a homeowner saves time and money because he or she is not using as much water or energy. If each homeowner plants native trees, more local water and energy resources are conserved.

In fact, the way people design and manage their homes, yards, and neighborhoods can impact surrounding natural areas. For example, invasive exotic plants in individual yards can spread to surrounding natural areas. Also, watering lawns can cause the water table to draw down, drying up nearby wetlands.

The purpose of this document is to summarize sources of information from federal, state, and non-governmental organizations that provide technical assistance to urban landowners interested in conserving natural resources (Table 1). Additional information regarding natural resource conservation on properties is available on the University of Florida IFAS, Cooperative Extension Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS – http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/). Some highlighted EDIS documents are provided below:

  1. Tips on landscaping for wildlife: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/TOPIC_Landscaping_for_Wildlife

  2. Energy conservation tips: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/TOPIC_Saving_Energy

  3. Environmental landscaping: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/TOPIC_Enviroscaping

  4. Water conservation in the yard: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/TOPIC_Lawns_and_Water_Conservation

  5. Overall environmentally friendly living: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/TOPIC_Environmentally_Friendly_Living

  6. Water conservation tips: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/TOPIC_Lawns_and_Water_Conservation

  7. Conservation options (easements, etc.) for private landowners: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/UW194

  8. Evaluating private lands for conservation: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/UW195

  9. The Green Leap: A Primer for Conserving Biodiversity in Subdivision Development. http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520271111

Tables

Table 1. 

Organizations and programs available to urban communities to provide technical assistance for conservation of natural resources.

ORGANIZATION

CONTACT INFORMATION

COMMENTS

Federal

Environmental Protection Agency

Energy Star http://www.energystar.gov/

Assistance to property owners to conserve energy within a building

 

Office of Pollution and Prevention, Community Assistance Programs

http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/cahp/

An educational resource to find out about environmental facts concerning land, air, and water

 

Envirofacts http://www.epa.gov/enviro/

An educational resource to find out about environmental facts concerning land, air, and water

 

Water use efficiency program http://www.epa.gov/watersense/index.html

Information on water efficient tools and management strategies

 

Reduce solid waste

http://www.epa.gov/osw/wycd/index.htm

Tips on simple ways to reduce the amount of solid waste

U.S. Department. of Agriculture

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/

Multiple programs that provide technical and financial support to assist homeowners and communities to conserve natural resources

State

University of Florida IFAS

Cooperative Extension Electronic Data Information Source

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/

Searchable database for technical information on many topics related to management of natural resources

 

Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation - Backyard landscaping for wildlife

http://www.wec.ufl.edu/extension/landscaping/

Information and program that help property owners evaluate their landscape for Florida wildlife

 

Florida Yards & Neighborhoods

http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu/

Helps residents to establish environmentally friendly yards

 

IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/assessment/

Information about Florida non-native invasive plants

Florida State University

Florida Natural Areas Inventory

http://www.fnai.org

Information about conserving Florida's biodiversity

Non-governmental

National Wildlife Federation

NWF Backyard Wildlife Program:

http://www.nwf.org/Get-Outside/Outdoor-Activities/Garden-for-Wildlife/Create-a-Habitat.aspx

Has information about ways to design a wildlife-friendly yard and also a certification program

Humane Society

Humane Society's urban wildlife program: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/sanctuary_program_1.html#id=album-28&num=content-487

Has information about ways to design a wildlife-friendly yard and also a certification program

Florida Native Plant Society

http://www.fnps.org/

Lists of native plants, tips on using native plants in your landscape, and locations of native plant nurseries

Florida Exotic Plant Council

http://www.fleppc.org/

Information, programs, and identification tips on how to identify and eradicate Florida exotic invasive plants

Footnotes

1.

This document is WEC 193, one of a series of the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date October 2004. Reviewed October 2007. Revised October 2012. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Mark Hostetler, assistant professor, and Martin Main, associate professor, Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611; Chris Demers, Forest Stewardship Coordinator, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.