Jimmy Wohl, owner and manager of Rafter T Ranch, has been chosen as the recipient of Florida Audubon’s first Sustainable Rancher of the Year Award, which was presented to him April 7 in Okeechobee at the Inaugural Everglades Day in honor of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas’ birthday.
“Jimmy Wohl and Rafter T Ranch are setting the standard for ranchland stewardship in the Northern Everglades,” said Eric Draper, executive director of Florida Audubon. “We at Audubon believe that innovative water management projects undertaken by ranchers and ranchland preservation are the key to restoration of ecosystems north of Lake Okeechobee.”
Audubon recognizes the stewardship that ranchers in the Okeechobee Watershed have exercised on their land for more than 50 years.
Wohl has exemplified stewardship on lands in the northern Everglades. Through the Florida Ranchlands Environmental Services Project and the Northern Everglades Payment for Environmental Services Program, Wohl has installed improvements on Rafter T Ranch to store and clean water before it runs into the watershed to Arbuckle Creek. His work shows how ranchers can make simple adjustments on working landscapes to maximize benefits for the environment.
“One of the reasons this award means so much is not just us receiving the award, but what it represents,” Wohl said. “This is a monumental step for the Audubon Society to even develop this award category. It’s a significant indication that we are making a lot of progress in getting the agencies, scientific community, NGOs and landowners to work together to positively address the environmental problems we are faced with today.”
Audubon produced a short video promoting water storage and water quality projects undertaken by ranchers which features Wohl and Rafter T Ranch. It can be seen at https://vimeo.com/61143683. The video, as well as Audubon’s efforts in the Northern Everglades, are supported in part by a grant from Darden Restaurants Foundation.
Owned by the Wohl Family, the 5,200-acre Rafter T Ranch is located in Sebring and has received numerous awards including Environmental Stewardship Awards from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Florida Cattlemen’s Association and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
During the award year, members of the Wohl family represented the U.S. cattle industry in meetings with The New York Times, Time, Life, Newsweek, United Press International and the National Audubon Society to discuss environmental stewardship practices and land management in Florida. The ranch has been featured on FOX News, PBS, Daytime TV Show and in the Palm Beach Post for its environmental stewardship practices.
For information about Rafter T Ranch, visit www.RafterTRanch.com. For information about Audubon Florida, visit www.AudubonOfFlorida.org.