County’s Addition to Buck Bay Flatwoods Preserve Protects Wildlife and Water

Buck Bay Flatwoods PreserveAlachua County recently purchased 173 acres of additional land for the Buck Bay Flatwoods Preserve. The land was purchased from Raydient LLC using funds from Wild Spaces and Public Places. This purchase expands protection for important wildlife habitat as well as the City of Gainesville’s water supply.

Under the purchase agreement, the County paid $727,309 for the property that fronts on both N.E. 53rd Avenue and N.E. 39th Street (County Road 225). It adjoins the existing 460-acre Buck Bay Flatwoods Preserve.

Wild Spaces and Public Places is the eight-year, one-half-cent sales tax initiative approved by the voters in 2016. It provides funding for the purchase of conservation lands and recreational improvements to County parks. The latest acquisition raises the total area protected through this initiative to 1,463 acres.

The purchase was part of the Alachua County Forever program, established in 2000 to acquire, improve, and manage environmentally significant lands that protect water resources, wildlife habitats, and natural areas suitable for resource-based recreation. Since its inception, the program has protected a total of 20,800 acres.

Rayonier Inc. managed the property for timber production before transferring it to the company’s real estate subsidiary, Raydient LLC. The natural communities are primarily pine flatwoods with scattered wetlands. The lands provide habitat for a variety of wildlife, including a black bear recently documented on the neighboring preserve.

The property also occupies areas within both the primary and secondary protection zones for the Gainesville Regional Utilities well field. Public ownership and management of the site will help to ensure that pollutants don’t find their way into the aquifer from which the utility draws its water.

County staff will now begin drafting the management plan for the new addition to the Buck Bay Flatwoods Preserve. Anticipated activities include natural community restoration and the extension of recreational trails.

View maps of the Buck Bay Flatwoods Preserve and addition.

For more information, contact Alachua County Parks and Conservation Lands Director Charlie Houder at 352-264-6804 or chouder@alachuacounty.us.

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