The Conservation Trust for Florida announced today a second land conservation victory in Marion County. Thanks to today’s approval by Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet, 465 acres in Ocala will be acquired with funding from the Florida Forever program.
The land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. The Conservation Trust for Florida is pleased to announce it is applying for renewal of accreditation. A public comment period is now open. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, conducts an extensive review of each applicant’s policies and programs. See how you can comment.
In December 2015, the Conservation Trust for Florida partnered with the Florida DEP and the St. Johns River Water Management District to purchase the 4,900-acre Silver Springs Forest Conservation Area tract. This acquisition links the surrounding public lands to create a 20-mile wildlife corridor and provides recreational opportunities for Floridians and visitors. In addition, the property will allow improved water quality for the aquifer to recharge. On Friday, May 27, we celebrated this important acquisition through a series of community events.
CTF is pleased to announce protection of 2,198 acres of important habitat and working ranchland in the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (with help from CTF) and the Florida Forest Service secured two separate conservation easements from the Adams Ranch, Inc., including 662 acres of some of the last remaining grassland and longleaf pine savanna landscapes in eastern North America.
On December 16, CTF’s proud partners turn out to celebrate the brand new Silver Springs Forest acquisition. Preservation of this 4,900 acre tract connects the landscape and protects the watershed. This ceremony was a fine closing to a year of efforts to save Florida’s wild and working landscapes for future generations. Read all about CTF’s active projects in the Year End Report, and and see how you can be a partner for Florida.
“The proposed purchase of the 4,900-acre tract known as the Silver Springs Forest is an environmental and economic coup that cannot be allowed to fail.”
In the Ocala Star Banner, November 8, Susan Carr shares the story of the Silver Springs Forest property purchase in the works. She explains that the “unfolding story of its acquisition is a prime example of what can happen when a conservation land becomes available for purchase.”
The Conservation Trust for Florida, a nonprofit landtrust, has negotiated the acquisition of almost 4,900 acres directly north of Silver Springs State Park as part of its statewide strategy to protect land with high conservation value. The property, called Silver Springs Forest, is within the Silver Springs watershed and will help recharge the Floridan Aquifer and reduce nutrient pollution entering the Silver and Oklawaha rivers. It will also provide a vital link between other protected lands, creating more habitat for wildlife and recreational opportunities for visitors to Florida’s parks.
On September 3rd, the Florida Forest Service’s Rural and Family Lands Protection Program ranked 70 applications for funding next year. The Conservation Trust for Florida was affiliated with 11 of the 70 applications. Of these 11 projects, which total over 54,800 acres, seven properties were ranked in the top tier and will be eligible for funding next year.
In his fact-centered article, CTF Greenways Program Research Scientist Tom Hoctor addresses the contention that Florida has enough conservation land. Dr. Hoctor makes it clear that we in fact may need much more, perhaps as much as 50% of the state’s landmass.
For more than three decades, states Hoctor, Florida has led the nation in using science to identify the most important areas to protect. Many unprotected acres remain that are essential for conservation of biodiversity and to sustain human populations.
“As a starting point, we need to use Amendment 1 to revitalize the funding of our landmark Florida Forever program,” said Hoctor. “There is no legitimate, science-based or economic argument against returning Florida Forever to a minimum annual funding of $300 million a year.”
Read more about the extent and preservation of Floria’s “Green infrastructure” in the Tampa Bay times.