Photo of Adams Ranch landscape by Randy Batista.
GAINESVILLE, Florida (July 31, 2017) – Today, the Conservation Trust for Florida (CTF), a leader in statewide conservation, announced the protection of 3,245 acres of conservation and ranch lands in Osceola County.
The property contains over 400 acres of rare dry prairie habitat suitable for the federally endangered grasshopper sparrow. Other significant natural areas include, wetland prairie, marsh, freshwater forested wetland, unimproved pasture and mixed scrub habitats.
The project also supports Florida’s ranching heritage and agriculture industry. According to the Florida Cattleman’s Association, Florida is the nation’s oldest cattle ranching state and ranks in the top 15 for production.
A conservation easement will allow the land to stay in private ownership while permanently protecting its conservation values. The easement was purchased by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) for $5.4 million. The Florida Forest Service will monitor the property to ensure compliance with the terms of the easement.
“This is the 30th easement on over 28,400 acres that the program has acquired since 2010 on behalf of the Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund of the State of Florida,” said John Browne, land programs administrator with DACS’s Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. “It continues our tradition of sustaining family-owned agricultural properties that also provide significant value to Florida’s large conservation landscapes.”
Conservation easements are voluntary, legal agreements between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that protect conservation values and existing land uses. Landowners may continue to own and use land as permitted by the easement, sell it, donate it, or pass it on to heirs. If the land is inherited or sold the easement and its restrictions stay in place.
Owned by the Adams Ranch, which has been in operation since the 1930s, the property is the fourth parcel the Adams family has placed under a conservation easement.
Mike Adams, president of the Adams Ranch, said that the 24,000-acre ranch has been in his family for four generations. “This is our third time working with CTF, which has played a pivotal role in protecting the land that our entire family, and especially our father, Bud Adams, holds dear.”
“With this closing, CTF will have helped the Adams protect 5,443 acres of their ranch over the last three years. I can think of no other legacy that honors the life and work of Bud Adams better than this, and CTF is proud and grateful to be a part of that,” added Lisa Gearen, CTF’s president.”
CTF prepared the application for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, facilitated the appraisal process and easement negotiations, and helped the family navigate the complexities of the transaction.
The Adams Ranch is the 12th largest cow/calf operation in the United States. This latest easement is on their Lake Marian Ranch that lies in the heart of the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area. The Refuge seeks to protect the imperiled habitats and rare species of the Northern Everglades.
According to data from the Florida Natural Areas Inventory, a non-profit organization administered by Florida State University, the property contains suitable habitat for a number of state and federally endangered species. A partial list of species that could be supported by habitat on the site includes: gopher tortoises, Eastern indigo snakes, Everglades snail kites, Florida burrowing owls, Florida Sandhill cranes, Florida grasshopper sparrows, Sherman’s fox squirrels and Florida black bears.