OSPREY, FL (October 12, 2018) Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast announces its expansion of protected habitat for the endangered Florida panther with the recent agreement for a 1,500-acre conservation easement on Pepper Ranch Preserve in northern Collier County. The conserved land is owned by Collier County government which has contracted its permanent protection to the Conservation Foundation.
The property, half grazing land, and half wetlands and forests, is located within the Florida panther Primary Habitat zone established by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Trail cameras on the property document extensive panther use, including kitten rearing. This legal agreement with Collier County, USFWS and Conservation Foundation, fulfills Collier County’s obligation to place a conservation easement on portions of the County’s preserve. The conservation easement is required as part of a mitigation bank to be used solely for impacts to panther habitat generated by Collier County Government, for example, construction of County facilities and buildings.
“This is a great partnership that benefits both organizations, but more importantly, benefits our community and its future,” stated Conservation Collier representatives.
“We are thrilled to be given this responsibility of ensuring the protection of Pepper Ranch Preserve forever,” states Christine Johnson, president of Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast. “This property is another milestone in our quest to create a corridor for the Florida panther and other wildlife, from the Myakka-Duette area south to the Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area in Charlotte County and southward across the Caloosahatchee River and down to Pepper Ranch Preserve and the Everglades.”
Pepper Ranch Preserve is rich with abundant wildlife including a variety of wading birds, alligators, and frequent Florida black bear sightings as well as Florida panther. The preserve is located on Lake Trafford and open Friday through Sunday between November and June for public use which includes hiking, biking, horseback riding, camping, and wildlife viewing. The Collier County Commission finalized the Conservation Easement agreement on October 9th.
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, Collier, and Lee Counties. Learn more at www.conservationfoundation.com.