The Heartland CISMA consists of five counties in west central Florida including Polk, Hardee, DeSoto, Highlands and Okeechobee counties. Our landscape contains a variety of ecosystems such as hardwood forested uplands, high pine and scrub, pine flatwoods and dry prairies, freshwater forested and non-forested wetlands, marshes, hardwoods, ponds and lakes, and rivers and streams. Protecting this landscape from invasive species requires a coordinated and dedicated effort to preserve the natural resources of these counties. The Heartland CISMA is one of sixteen statewide regional partnerships to prevent and control invasive species in Florida and works closely with neighboring Central Florida, and Osceola CISMAs.
The first formal organized meeting was held in 2009, building on the success of the Lake Wales Ridge Ecosystem Working Group's Invasive Species Committee. Our goal, then, was to facilitate a network for land managers to address the growing threat of invasive non-native species in west central portion of Florida. We have since grown to include five counties, establish over twenty partnerships with federal, state and local government agencies, private landowners, individuals and various interested groups, and host many educational workshops and work days. The Heartland CISMA's mission is to provide the collective outreach, support and strategic infrastructure to effectively manage invasive species across boundaries in DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Okeechobee and Polk Counties.
Counties: Polk, Highlands, Hardee, Desoto & Okeechobee