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Split Oak Forest by David Moynahan
Split Oak Forest by David Moynahan, FWC

Update May 1, 2024 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) voted to approve FWC staff’s recommendation for a deal that would release a portion of the perpetual conservation easement that protects the Split Oak Forest Wildlife and Environmental Area. Despite widespread concerns and advocacy efforts, FWC made a disappointing decision, putting Split Oak’s delicate ecosystem at risk.  

The Federation spoke in opposition to releasing the conservation easement along with 38 dedicated advocates and our conservation partners, Friends of Split Oak Forest.  

This decision is a disappointing one, paving the way for the toll road to move one step closer to construction. We are so grateful for all of our supporters and their commitment to help save Split Oak Forest.  

The next opportunity to engage on this issue: 

In Person Public Comment:
Date: Thursday, May 9th
Time: 9:00 AM
Location: Central Florida Expressway Authority Boardroom, 4974 ORL Tower Road, Orlando, FL 32807 

Visit Friends of Split Oak Forest for more info! 

Update April 24, 2024 

Late last year, the Florida Wildlife Federation and almost 1,000 of our dedicated advocates delivered strong opposition to releasing the perpetual conservation easement that protects the environmentally sensitive land of Split Oak Forest.   

During their December meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) asked staff to continue negotiating with the Central Florida Expressway, Orange and Osceola counties to develop a ‘mitigation package’ to be presented at a future meeting.  

The issue of Split Oak has been added to the agenda for the May 1st meeting in Daytona Beach, where FWC is tasked with making a decision that will shape the future of the Split Oak Forest Wildlife and Environmental Area. 

On behalf of our many advocates and aligned with our mission to conserve Florida’s wildlife, habitats, and natural resources, we will be at the forefront of the May 1st public meeting to ask FWC, once again, to protect Split Oak Forest and stay true to the meaning of a perpetual conservation easement.  

After all, if our hard work to secure perpetual conservation easements and protect vital habitats faces such an uncertain future, what does that mean for Florida’s commitment to conservation? 

Want to attend the Public Hearing?

Join the Save Split Oak Forest Coalition in standing up for our beloved natural sanctuary! 

When: May 1, 2024 | 8:30 am EST

Where: Mori Hosseini Student Union Event Center, 610 Aerospace Blvd, Daytona Beach, 32114 

Register HERE for talking points.

December 6, 2023

Yesterday, we delivered nearly 1,000 signatures to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), representing our members and supporters who oppose the release of a perpetual conservation easement over the Split Oak Forest Wildlife and Management Area. During the public meeting, over 70 speakers signed up with an overwhelming majority talking about their connection with Split Oak Forest and expressing adamant opposition to the release. Due to the large number of speakers, each person was given one (1) minute to provide their comments. If you have given public comment before, you know this is a hard task especially if you prepared for the standard three (3) minutes. 

During the meeting, staff acknowledged the most southern alignment would be the least destructive to wildlife by AVOIDING Split Oak Forest. However, the alignment on the table supported by Osceola County and the Central Florida Expressway is NOT the avoidance alignment.  

One significant change leading into the FWC meeting was the change in Orange County’s position. On November 28, 2023, the Orange County Commission voted to no longer support the pending application before Florida Communities Trust (FCT) and FWC. As one of the two entities who originally requested the release and now have changed their position, many would have thought that would put the project on pause.

Please take a moment to thank Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Commissioners Nicole Wilson, Mayra Uribe, Maribel Gomez Cordero, Emily Bonilla, and Mike Scott.   

Following the last public speaker, the FWC Commissioners went into discussion. In summary, they had not heard about Split Oak until last week. Because of all the excellent comments providing additional facts and insights, Commissioners like Preston Farrier and Gary Lester had more questions, expressed concerns, and wanted to learn more. In the end, the Commissioners voted to direct Executive Director Young and FWC staff to continue negotiating the details with the Central Florida Expressway (CFX) and come back to the Commission for a final vote, at a later date (TBD).  

Thank you to everyone who signed the petition, made phone calls, and attended the public meeting. The Federation, with your support, is committed to stopping this precedent-setting issue of statewide significance.  

To stay informed on next steps, please sign up for our newsletter. 

To learn more about Split Oak Forest please visit our conservation partners page Friends of Split Oak.

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