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The Jelks Family Foundation: Striving to make a difference by preserving Florida’s unique natural spaces.

The Jelks Family Foundation, Inc. (JFF) was formed in 1994 to promote cultural, educational, environmental, historical, and humanitarian programs through charitable giving and active participation.  While we are based in Florida, we are engaged globally.  Our Foundation includes legal, health, and environmental professionals.

While we remain committed to all of these philanthropic sectors, we are increasingly focused on conserving natural resources in a state that is experiencing extremely rapid environmental changes. 

Our main geographic focuses are the Northwest Florida greenway area in the state's panhandle, the Myakka River in Sarasota County, and Bone Valley in the central part of the state.

We are actively seeking partnerships with other foundations who share our interest in preserving the biological diversity and quality of life that abounds in this area.  In this introduction, we cite examples of our past successes and current goals.  Your support will help build a legacy for future generations.

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Success in Sarasota

In Sarasota County, Florida, we helped initiate a land conservation program in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy and governmental agencies. Our first endeavor, the 614-acre The Jelks Preserve, was purchased to protect the Myakka River. Since that initial gift, state and local funds have acquired much of the remaining watershed to conserve this valuable resource, predominantly through the county’s Environmentally Sensitive Lands Oversight Committee (ESLOC), on which a JFF member served for 13 years.

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Conservation Work in Northwest Florida

Listed as one of 12 BioGems by the NRDC and recognized by the Nature Conservancy as one of the six most biologically diverse regions in the country, Northwest Florida is a biodiversity hotspot. Many of the plants and animals are endemic to this unique area and exist nowhere else in the world.  Without conservation, these species may go extinct.

Wetlands in this region are important habitat for many game and nongame species.  In addition, wetlands are essential for stormwater retention and aquifer recharge.

Some examples of our work in the region include:

We remain focused on preserving this critical part of our state. With some large tracts of property still available, the opportunity for conservation is great.  By linking state and federal lands with conservation corridors, large mammals that have extensive home-ranges can persist and we can work to protect the unique biodiversity of the region.  Now is the time to act before this area is subdivided into small, fragmented patches.

Guarding Against the Phosphate Risk

Another important focus of the foundation is on phosphate mining in the Bone Valley region of Florida (encompassing portions of Hardee, Hillsborough, Manatee, and Polk counties). The mining process devastates the land on which it's carried out, creating "moonscapes" on previously mined land and leaving behind toxic gypsum stacks. Moreover, mining threatens water quality in the headwaters of the Myakka and Peace rivers, which feed Charlotte Harbor, one of the most vital estuaries in the state.

JFF supports work by the Sierra Club and People for Protecting the Peace River (3PR) to fight the continued expansion of phosphate mining. Recent efforts have included providing important comments to the new area-wide environmental impact study and opposing the Ona and Altman mine permits.

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