EO Wilson and MC Davis

An American who made his fortune through gambling and investing in real estate has created the largest block of conservation land privately owned East of the Mississippi.

M.C. Davis (pictured, left) has stage 4 lung cancer, but is leaving an extraordinary legacy. He spent some $90 million to buy 54,000 acres in the Florida panhandle from timber companies who had destroyed the natural habitat.

The 70-year-old, who was raised in Santa Rosa county, is restoring the property he named Nokuse Plantation to its original splendor as a longleaf pine forest.

NPR reports that he has managed already to produce a haven for threatened species, “an ecological hotspot, filled with wildlife…eagles, ospreys, bobcats, foxes, raccoons, armadillos.Rajendra-Singh-courtesy-Tarun Bharat Sangh

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“This is a 300-year project,” said Davis describing his plantation to Florida State University’s Research in Review. “That’s what it’s going to take to return this to the old-growth longleaf environment that once stood here.”

Davis is also on a personal crusade to teach young people the importance of saving wildlife from the ravages of growth and development, having built a $12 million science and learning center in Walton County. The grounds, indoor theater, and massive nature displays of the E.O. Wilson Center are all free – part of his charitable effort to help educate Florida’s youth about saving the planet while there’s still time.

(READ the full story from NPR) – Photo of M. C. Davis and E. O. Wilson via Nokuse.org

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