| Great News for Protecting Florida's Special Places|
|Earlier this week, Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet approved two Florida Forever land acquisitions and agreed to acquire a conservation easement that will protect special places in Manatee, Sarasota, and Columbia counties. Gulf Restoration funding through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation made possible the acquisition of a key 20,000-acre Panhandle parcel around Lake Wimico.|
According to DEP Secretary Valenstein, “The Orange Hammock acquisition protects 5,777 acres of natural, pristine Florida habitat and is the largest undeveloped property left in Sarasota County.” This parcel is home to the increasingly rare dry prairie habitat. In addition, the acquisition will enhance water resources in the area by restricting development, preserving the natural systems, promoting water retention and aquifer recharge, and providing recreation opportunities to area residents.
The second approved acquisition is a 17-acre addition to River Rise Preserve State Park in Columbia County. The parcel contains a unique portion of the Sante Fe River, which emerges from underground as Columbia Spring. The State’s acquisition of this land will protect the prominent hydrological features of the Santa Fe River system.
The Myakka Ranchlands conservation easement will protect 559 acres adjacent to Flatford Swamp in Manatee County. This is an important aquifer recharge area and surface water feature for the headwaters of the Myakka River corridor.
Finally, wetland habitat acquisition along Lake Wimico made possible with Gulf Restoration dollars will protect a 21,000-acre area of critical conservation significance in the central Panhandle. This long sought-after acquisition will not only protect the lake but will also help preserve the water quality of the Apalachicola River, Apalachicola Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico.
Congrats to all the partners who made these important wins possible!