Florida Construction News staff writer
Florida will pay more than $56 million to buy seven properties totalling nearly 20,000 acres that will be designated for conservation across the state. More than 98 percent of the land is within the Florida Wildlife Corridor, a recently designated network of connected lands that are crucial for wildlife habitat.
“Acquiring lands for conservation and recreation is a top priority for my administration,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement. “Conservation of these key properties will forever benefit water quality, rare wildlife habitats and corridor linkages, as well as support Florida’s ever-growing economy.”
The addition of 768 acres within the Wolfe Creek Florida Forever Project in Santa Rosa County is part of an ongoing partnership between federal, state, local and private entities.
It will expand public recreational opportunities and provides a corridor between Blackwater River State Forest and other state-owned conservation lands near Whiting Field Naval Air Station. This property will be managed by the Florida Forest Service as an addition to Blackwater River State Forest.
“These projects will provide protection to imperiled species and connectivity for recreational and wildlife corridors and will support the preservation of Florida’s natural landscapes for future generations,” said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “We also appreciate our many agency and community partners who helped to make these projects possible.”
Newly acquired properties include:
- A 376-acre property within the St. Joe Timberland Florida Forever Project in Franklin County that will expand Tate’s Hell State Forest and will create access for wildlife to nearly two miles of streams that flow into the East Bay
- A conservation easement covering 11,958 acres within the Horse Creek Ranch Florida Forever Project in DeSoto and Hardee counties
- Conservation easements of 3,634 and 615 acres within the Kissimmee-St. Johns River Connector Florida Forever Projectthat will create habitat and hydrological connections in Okeechobee County
- 1,882 acres within the Fisheating Creek Ecosystem Florida Forever Project in Highlands County
- 663 acres within the Lake Wales Ridge Florida Forever Project in Highlands County