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“ Good man. ”

J. Kay NPRWednesday, June 17, 2015 6:00 PM

NPR2015-06-18T23:34:51.000Z

You might think you know what frogs sound like — until, that is, you hear the symphony of amphibians that fills the muggy night air at Nokuse Plantation, a nature preserve in the Florida Panhandle.

There, about 100 miles east of Pensacola, a man named M.C. Davis has done something extraordinary: He has bought up tens of thousands of acres in the Florida sandhills and turned them into a unique, private preserve.

In the largest block of privately owned conservation land in the southeastern U.S., Davis is restoring ecosystems that agriculture and timbering have destroyed.

"I'm a self-proclaimed, devout conservationist," Davis says. "I've been dedicated now for about 20 years."

Davis is thinking 300 years into the future with his wildlife restoration project, even though he knows he doesn't have much time left. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in November.

From Gambler To Unlikely Conservationist

Davis grew up poor in the Florida Panhandle, and he just wanted to get away.

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