OSPREY, FL (June 29, 2018) The Florida Department of Environmental Protection announces the permanent protection of the 55.7-acre Coral Creek Peninsula as an addition to the Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park (CHPSP). The Peninsula is strategically located at the convergence of East and West Coral Creeks near the town of Placida in Charlotte County, Florida. These freshwater creeks flow into Gasparilla Sound and Aquatic Preserve and thereby the Charlotte Harbor, all state-designated as Florida Outstanding Waters.
“The Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park has been a land acquisition priority since 1972. The Coral Creek Peninsula purchase is a great example of Florida Forever dollars being used to ensure the vitality and integrity of our spectacular state parks,” notes Callie DeHaven, Director of State Lands. “We’re proud that we were able to work with our partners to complete this important acquisition and look forward to continuing to build these types of partnerships to acquire additional rare and sensitive lands.”
Once privately-owned, this parcel is within the boundaries of the northern half of Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park (CHPSP). Adding this vital parcel to the park will ensure it too is managed for the health and diversity of its natural communities and will benefit the adjoining public lands and significant waterways. The 46,000-acre CHPSP buffers more than 100 miles of the shoreline of Charlotte Harbor National Estuary and over 80,000 acres of aquatic preserves. Shallow, near-shore shoals sustain an abundance of seagrasses, oysters and mudflats. This variety of habitats supports more than 100 invertebrate species, 200 fish species and 150 species of shore and wading birds.
Integral to the success of this conservation project was the assistance of the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, a regional land conservancy. “Conservation Foundation is working to conserve critical properties surrounding the Charlotte Harbor estuary and its barrier islands,” said Christine Johnson, Conservation Foundation President. “We recognized the importance of saving the Coral Creek Peninsula to prevent any future development which would disturb important fish and wildlife within the state park and surrounding creeks and bays.”
Conservation Foundation worked closely with the private landowner for several years, bringing the opportunity to the Florida DEP which used Florida Forever funding to purchase and conserve the property. Adding the property to the state park will enhance management of the natural resources on both the land and the adjoining state park lands, including the removal of rampantly spreading invasive Melaleuca which is on the site and continues to spread onto the adjoining public lands.
Charlotte Harbor was established as an Estuary of National Significance in 1995 and is one of the largest, least-spoiled and most productive estuaries in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. The acquisition of lands to protect Charlotte Harbor and the natural resources of the lands surrounding it began in 1977. There are numerous opportunities to hike, fish, paddle, and observe wildlife in the park’s many natural communities, including mangrove forests, marshes, scrub habitats and pine flatwoods. Most of the park is shallow water fringed by mangroves, providing amazing opportunities to view wading birds, manatees, dolphins, and other wildlife. The best views in the park are enjoyed by kayak or canoe. The bounty of the Charlotte Harbor Estuary provides residents and visitors to the area with opportunities for boating, fishing, and other recreational pursuits
About DEP/Florida Forever Program
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship, protecting Florida’s air, water and land.
The Florida Forever program is Florida’s premier conservation and recreation lands acquisition program, a blueprint for conserving natural resources and renewing Florida’s commitment to conserve the state’s natural and cultural heritage. Florida Forever replaces Preservation 2000 (P2000), the largest public land acquisition program of its kind in the United States. With approximately 10 million acres managed for conservation in Florida, more than 2.5 million acres were purchased under the Florida Forever and P2000 programs. Since the inception of the Florida Forever program in July 2001, the state has purchased more than 770,279 acres of land with a little over $3 billion. Learn more at www.floridadep.gov.
About Conservation Foundation
Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast saves land, forever, protecting those special natural lands that make this region extraordinary. Working with landowners, businesses, and government, Conservation Foundation protects the character and natural integrity of the bays, beaches, barrier islands and their watersheds on Florida’s Gulf Coast. A nationally accredited land trust, the Foundation purchases natural areas, holds land conservation agreements and educates for responsible land and water stewardship in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee Counties. Learn more at www.conservationfoundation.com.