The proposed Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area in the Kissimmee River Valley, south of Orlando, would preserve one of the last remaining grassland and longleaf pine savanna landscapes in eastern North America, department officials said.
The proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative.
"We established the America's Great Outdoors initiative to help support the efforts of local communities, private landowners and other key stakeholders to protect working lands and signature landscapes like the northern Everglades," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said.
"The establishment of this refuge promotes one of our key Everglades restoration goals, which is to restore habitat and protect species."
A preliminary proposal for the project was first announced in January and by the end of March the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had held four public meetings and received more than 38,000 comments, input used to refine the proposal.