Silver Springs Forest Conservation Area
After more than two years of negotiations, the Conservation Trust for Florida and its partners closed on this 4,900 acre forest. The property is located directly north of Silver Springs State Park and east of Indian Lakes State Forest. The Conservation Trust negotiated a contract with the property owner before assigning it to the St. Johns River Water Management District. The District purchased the forest with state funding and private donations raised by the Conservation Trust.
The acquisition of the Silver Springs Forest Conservation Area offers opportunities to restore natural hydrology and improve water quality in the watershed. View this film to see how agency partnerships have supported preservation and restoration of iconic Silver Springs.
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The Governor and Cabinet approved the option to purchase a conservation easement on 1,536 acres of the Adams Ranch on Tuesday, December 9th, 2014. The Conservation Trust facilitated a joint acquisition project for the Florida Forest Service and the Natural Resource Conservation Service to purchase the conservation easement on the ranch.
Adams Ranch, Inc. is the 12th largest cow/calf operation in the United States. Their 24,000-acre Lake Marian Ranch lies in the heart of the recently authorized Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area. This refuge seeks to protect the imperiled habitats and rare species of the Northern Everglades, much of which is on some of Florida’s largest ranches.
Adams Ranch not only manages a world-class cow/calf operation, but they are also tremendous stewards of a native landscape of hammocks, southern longleaf pine flatwoods, rare dry prairie, and a landscape-sized wildlife corridor connecting other managed lands.
In 2002, CTF nominated Barr Hammock for acquisition. Using Alachua County Forever funds, the Alachua County Commission purchased this prized property, furthering our commitment to help create a recreational, landscape-level corridor that runs through Alachua and Marion Counties.
Overall, there are 5,719 acres to the Barr Hammock preserve, making it the largest of Alachua county’s conservation acquisitions. Barr Hammock helps to create a corridor that will one day connect Payne’s Prairie State Preserve to the Ocala National Forest and Goethe State Forest, keeping intact entire ecosystems, wildlife populations and the largest wetlands in Alachua County – Ledwith and Levy Prairies.
Barr Hammock and its surrounding uplands are some of the most important ecologically intact examples of prairie/lake ecosystems in north central Florida. Its protection preserves significant prehistoric archaeological sites and will provide the citizens of Florida with a beautiful space for recreational activities such as bird watching and hiking.
Little Orange Creek Preserve Addition
Little Orange Creek Preserve
The 1,900-acre Little Orange Creek Preserve (LOCP) is located just northeast of the City of Hawthorne. Much of LOCP is basin swamp with cypress, tupelo, and red maple trees. The uplands were historically sandhill and flatwoods, but were converted to planted pine many years ago. The varied habitats support a wonderful diversity of animals and plants. Bears are known to traverse the preserve, and they have often been photographed by trail cameras. Other predators that roam freely include bobcats, coyotes, and otters. The freshwater marshes and swamps add to important stopovers for migratory birds along the Atlantic Flyway. They also provide critical year-round habitat for many wetland-dependent plant and animal species.
Conservation Trust for Florida (CTF) and Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) with help from other partners associated with the North Florida Wetlands Conservation Project (NFWCP) acquired an important 390-acre addition to Little Orange Creek Preserve early in 2013. CTF, ACT, the Putnam Land Conservancy (PLC), and the City of Hawthorne are members of the Little Orange Creek Partners Land Management Committee. The purchase was made possible with federal funds from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), and represents another successful partnership of the NFWCP to apply this funding source in the region. To date, more than 8000-acres have been protected in the first four phases of the NFWCP, which will complement tens of thousands of acres of nearby conservation lands, including Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park (~21,000 acres), Lochloosa Wildlife Conservation Area (~28,000 acres), and others.
Nayfield Acres Conservation Easement
The 136-acre Nayfield Acres Conservation Easement adds to protected lands within the Suwannee River corridor. The land is adjacent to the Big Shoals Conservation Area, and contains a seepage spring and creek system that drains into the Suwannee River. These lands serve as a buffer to the protected state lands by providing additional wildlife habitat, protecting water quality, and preventing soil erosion, as well as providing scenic amenity to the hiking trails located within Big Shoals Conservation Area. The Nayfields have begun to restore the cleared portions of the property by planting long leaf pine. The property is used for recreational activities such as camping, hiking, hunting, and wildlife viewing.
Hartzog Santa Fe River Conservation Easement
Large, privately held, undeveloped parcels with significant river frontage on the Santa Fe River are a rarity today. These parcels are significant for many reasons, including protecting water resources, providing habitat to important species, and providing scenic amenity and open space in an increasingly developed landscape. The Hartzogs chose to donate a conservation easement on their 117-acre parcel on the Santa Fe River to protect these qualities on their land.
The Hartzogs are working to restore native long leaf pines to part of the property, and plan to use the property in a recreational and educational manner. They hope to be able to share their property with individuals who have limited contact with nature or who are handicapped.
The Webber Cedar Lakes Ranch and Nature Preserve
The Webber Cedar Lakes Ranch and Nature Preserve Conservation Easement, donated to CTF on December 23, 2008, is a 54-acre parcel owned by Dr. Raymond T. Webber. The karst topography and nature of the property makes it a significant contributor to protecting water quality and quantity in Levy County, Florida, and the surrounding region. The property is adjacent to Devil’s Den, a spring, and popular diving destination.
One of the management goals is to maximize wildlife habitat of the woods and eliminate invasive exotic vegetation.
Cross Creek is a special place with a unique rural character, immortalized by Pulitzer Prize winner Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. CTF was happy to accept a conservation easement on Phyllis Hansen’s 25-acre property on the shore of Orange Lake. The easement will protect the wildlife, waterfront, and water quality, as well as the dense forest on the property.
Phyllis wanted to protect the scenic beauty of the tupelo swamp on her property. “When I found this spot of land I knew I would never go anywhere else,” she wrote. “The beauty was more than I had ever imagined could exist in one place. I worried about what would happen to it when I was no longer around. After a number of efforts, trials, and errors, the Conservation Trust for Florida solved my problem and I thank them earnestly from the bottom of my heart.”
“I worried about what would happen to it when I was no longer around. After a number of efforts, trials, and errors, the Conservation Trust for Florida solved my problem… Phyllis Hansen, landowner
Quail Roost Conservation Easement
Following the death of his parents, just months apart in 2003, Kerry Heubeck worked with CTF to protect and limit development on approximately 800 acres of their 1,000 acre farm, Quail Roost II. A conservation easement was used to protect 200 acres, and deed restrictions controlled the possible development of another 600 acres. These protections were instituted as a memorial to his parents, Harriet and Elmer Heubeck, Jr. who both held a deep love for the land upon which they lived and worked.
The Heubecks have long been recognized as pioneers in the Florida Thoroughbred Horse industry. Their name is routinely and justly associated with that of Rosemere, the first Thoroughbred farm in Marion County, as well as Hobeau Farm, for years one of the nation’s leading Thoroughbred breeding establishments and racing stables. Nevertheless, it was their own Quail Roost Farm to which family and friends attach their fondest memories. It was this original Quail Roost that was so unique, bringing together under their aegis one of Florida’s best known Thoroughbred breeding and training venues, a large purebred and commercial beef operation, and one of the finest private exotic game preserves in the nation.
In dedicating the Quail Roost Conservation Easement to their memory, Kerry stated, “Some sixty years ago my parents brought me to an exquisite land, where I had the luxury of growing up surrounded by lush green Florida hammocks, crystal-clear springs, and an abundance of wildlife unimaginable today. That particular landscape is now mostly buried beneath concrete and asphalt. Before they died, each of my parents spoke of protecting the land. I’ve also come to believe that each of us must assume the responsibility of preserving the wildness that remains — so that our children, and theirs, may come to know such beauty; and, quite possibly, for the very survival of us all.”
Working with the state Office of Greenways and Trails, CTF helped protect Price’s Scrub, a unique 952-acre sand pine and pond pine system with saw palmetto understory. Price’s Scrub is continuing ecological restoration and is open to the public for light recreation such as hiking and horseback riding. These properties are an important connection in the effort to create a recreational corridor, primarily for horseback riding, from Payne’s Prairie Sate Preserve to Goethe State Forest.
Lochloosa Nature Preserve
CTF nominated the Lochloosa Nature Preserve for acquisition by the Alachua County Forever land conservation program. The project was approved for acquisition in October 2003. The 1,388-acre parcel, surrounded by the Lochloosa Wildlife Conservation Area, boasts some of the best remaining longleaf pine flatwoods and sandhill habitat in the county.