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FWC Celebrates 25 Years Serving the People and Wildlife of Florida

Florida - Saturday July 6, 2024: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) celebrates its silver anniversary in conserving the wildlife and habitats of Florida and providing diverse recreational opportunities for residents and visitors.

The FWC became operational July 1, 1999, after Florida voters elected to replace the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, the Marine Fisheries Commission and parts of the Department of Environmental Protection with a new agency.

“I’m proud to say that over the past 25 years, we've made outstanding strides in our mission to manage Florida’s fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people,” said FWC Executive Director Roger Young. “Our dedicated team has worked tirelessly through many changes, and because of their unwavering commitment and passion, we've accomplished so much.”

Many of those accomplishments include enhancing and increasing our recreation opportunities including:

  • The FWC and partners have grown the Wildlife Management Area system to include more than 6 million acres of public land.
  • The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail has more than 500 premier wildlife viewing sites across the state that were selected based on their unique wildlife viewing opportunities and ecological significance, educational opportunities, access for the public and resilience to recreational use. 
  • Catch a Florida Memory is a saltwater angler recognition program that rewards anglers for their fishing efforts while encouraging them to target diverse species. 
  • TrophyCatch is a citizen science program that collects valuable data and helps encourage fishing and conservation.
  • The State Reef Fish Survey helps improve recreational data for several reef fish species such as snapper, grouper and hogfish.

Other major accomplishments over the past 25 years include:

  • Restoring the wild turkey population in Holmes County that had virtually disappeared by the 1990s.
  • Developing the world-renowned Python Challenge, an innovative competition created to increase awareness about invasive species and the threats they pose to Florida’s ecology.
  • Building the Florida Youth Conservation Center Network, a statewide group whose massive growth can be attributed to a thriving partnership with the non-profit Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, a robust network of partners, and families’ need to get kids outdoors and away from devices.
  • Establishing the Vessel Turn-In Program, which allows vessel owners whose vessels are at risk of becoming derelict to voluntarily surrender their unwanted vessel to the FWC. Surrendered vessels are removed from Florida waters and destroyed at no cost to the vessel owner.

The FWC and its staff would like to thank all its partners, stakeholders, volunteers and others who have helped make it one of the foremost conservation agencies in the country. We look forward to making the next 25 years even more outstanding.