Land manager’s work is rooted in her passion for the outdoors
It’s her passion and excitement for the outdoors that fuels Amy Copeland’s career as a land manager, and while each day is very different, her work is focused on one specific region — the Upper St. Johns River Basin, an area that gives life to the river’s headwaters.
“Natural systems sometimes need management,” she says. “We can provide the necessary structural and functional fixes to improve, restore and maintain the habitats of our unique plants and animals – that’s a very cool responsibility.” For each of the more than 700,000 acres owned by the district, land management plans outline things like water resource protection, habitat diversity, compatible recreational uses, and wildlife habitat restoration and enhancement.
As a land manager, Copeland finds excitement watching natural communities improve with management and restoration efforts. “Our natural landscapes and diverse species are important and valued by people for many different reasons. Protecting and preserving these resources is necessary to preserve the ecological and cultural integrity of Florida.”
Those management and restoration efforts take a variety of forms. Her responsibilities include things like conducting prescribed fires, wildfire management, public outreach, recreation management, and sometimes threatened or endangered species management.
Rooted in science, a career in land management has provided Copeland with opportunities to mix fun with her work. It’s an equation she recommends to others who might be interested in a similar path. “Focus on as much hands-on field experience as you can. The work can be extremely rewarding, adventurous, challenging, and often involves a lot of teamwork with really great resource professionals who are equally as passionate about protecting Florida’s natural resources.”