Alachua County Forever, the County’s environmental land acquisition program, has closed on the largest single land acquisition in the program’s 22-year history. The 3,936-acre purchase from the Weyerhaeuser Company bridges the gap between the 1,861-acre Lochloosa Slough Preserve and the 385-acre Fox Pen Tract.
Together with properties owned by the St. Johns River Water Management District and Alachua Conservation Trust, these lands form a contiguous protected corridor of more than 10,000 acres. All of these lands are within the state-designated Florida Wildlife Corridor.
The newly acquired property was primarily used for timber production by the previous owner. Over time, the 2,200 acres of pine flatwoods will be restored to a more natural condition through reforestation, principally with longleaf pine and the introduction of prescribed fire. The balance of the property, over 40%, is in good quality wetlands, including numerous open-water lakes and ponds. These will be maintained to provide water storage and wildlife habitat.
Staff will next begin a detailed inventory of the ecological resources and other features to prepare a management plan for consideration of the County Commission. Public recreational access will be an important component of the plan. It is anticipated that public hunting will be considered since it has been a traditional use on the property.
The $10,588,781 purchase was made with funds from Wild Spaces and Public Places. Since County voters reauthorized Wild Spaces and Public Places in 2016, Alachua County Forever has protected an additional 12,033 acres. In addition, the program has protected 31,509 acres since its inception in 2000.
For more information, contact Office of Land Conservation and Management Director Charlie Houder at 352-275-2050 or firstname.lastname@example.org