New 2020 Additions to the O2O
Photo by Rhonda Lovett taken on Wetland preserve
The O2O Partnership protected over 4,400 acres in the O2O last year, including 65 acres of fee and a whopping 4,346 acres of conservation easement acquisition! We are happy to report that our partner, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) was responsible for a large portion of this, through the Florida Forever program. North Florida Land Trust (NFLT) received two donated conservation easements, leveraged new funding sources and funding partners, and continued to purchase land through the Camp Blanding Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program to buffer lands surrounding the installation. Putnam Land Conservancy continued their efforts to stitch together natural landscapes through acquisition of small but strategically located lands.
By Far the Biggest Protection Project for the Year of 2020
3,562-acre Wetland Preserve conservation easement by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).
Wetland Preserve, owned by Ben and Louann Williams, is one of the largest privately owned parcels in the Etoniah/Cross Florida Greenway Florida Forever project area. After nearly six years of working with the Williams, NFLT helped the landowners sell their conservation easement to Florida department of Environmental Protection. Wetland Preserve is a critical piece of the central O2O, strategically located next to the Rice Creek Conservation Area and other conservation lands in Putnam County, and will be forever managed as a working forest to protect natural resources.
The largest Donated Conservation Easement in the O2O to date!
716 acres of land in Putnam County
Late in 2020, NFLT received a donated conservation easement in the O2O: the 716-acre Welaka Woods property. This is by far the largest donated conservation easement in the O2O to date, and it contains a mosaic of natural areas including pine flatwoods, longleaf pine, xeric oak forests, bay swamps, ephemeral ponds, scrub and sandhill. Welaka Woods is in the restricted air space of Pine Castle Bombing Range and is near the Ocala National Forest.
40 Acre Addition of Trail Ridge
The 40 acre Trail Ridge addition is an inholding of the much larger NFLT Trail Ridge Preserve and enhances our ability to manage the preserve. The Trail Ridge Preserve was purchased through NFLT’s REPI (Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration) partnership with Camp Blanding (Army National Guard).
Second Donated Conservation Easement to the O2O. Sweet Gum Farm a 68 acre family farm, an inholding in the Osceola National Forest
NFLT received a donated conservation easement from the Griffis family, which protects their 68 acre family farm. Sweet Gum Farm contains forested wetland and is a significant inholding of the Osceola National Forest. This newly protected property contributes to the integrity of the greater Osceola National Forest and Pinhook Swamp region.
NFLT Purchased a 25-acre Inholding of the Ocala National Forest
The Florida Scrub Preserve tract contains mature sand pine scrub habitat in the middle of the Ocala National Forest’s Florida scrub-jay habitat management area. It was purchased with Florida scrub-jay mitigation funding administered by The Nature Conservancy. This is a novel funding source for O2O land protection. This project improves landscape integrity for the Florida scrub-jay, a Federally threatened species and Florida’s only endemic bird.
Putnam Land Conservancy Continues Their Efforts with Conserving Parcels in the Mondex Area
Putnam Land Conservancy (PLC) acquired 25 acres in the Mondex area in their continuing efforts to consolidate conservation properties next to the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway State Recreation and Conservation Area. Mondex is a legacy subdivision that was never developed. These properties add to a larger conservation area that PLC has already protected in the Mondex area.