OSPREY, FL (February 4, 2020) Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast is launching a campaign to raise $1.5 million by June 1 in order to permanently protect the 5,777-acre Orange Hammock Ranch. The Florida Cabinet voted today to purchase Orange Hammock Ranch contingent on Conservation Foundation’s pledge. Florida Forever funds will contribute $19.5 million toward the purchase.
Conserving Orange Hammock Ranch has been a major priority for Conservation Foundation for more than 10 years. The Foundation was successful in getting this property added to the Florida Forever list in 2013, and has worked to build public and political support since then.
“We are grateful for the many people and organizations that elevated this project, keeping it in the spotlight. We are so close to making this extraordinary conservation project a success, and we now ask the community to help put it over the goal line,” states Christine Johnson, president. “I am proud of our board and staff’s tenacity for this project, which has the trifecta of benefits – drinking water, rare habitat, and unique public access.”
The ranch is located on the north side of Interstate 75 within the City of North Port. It connects RV Griffin Preserve with the Longino Preserve through about six miles of shared boundaries, and increases the 120,000-acre buffer surrounding the Myakka River and strengthens the connection between the Myakka and Peace Rivers. Immense volumes of rainfall collect on the property and feed the Snover Waterway and RV Griffin reservoirs, both of which are critical sources of North Port’s clean drinking water.
The property is also nearly pristine, with natural areas in better condition than many public lands. Over 200 wetlands are intermixed with pine flatwood, globally-imperiled dry prairie and other native habitat. Given this location and exceptional natural condition, the conservation of Orange Hammock Ranch will have sweeping benefits for regional connectivity, water quality, public recreation, and wildlife habitat. This vast land is home to quail, indigo snake and the Florida black bear. The iconic Florida panther has also been spotted on this expansive land.
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 land and water in Southwest Florida for the benefit of humans and nature. 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, Lee, and Collier County. Learn more and donate at www.conservationfoundation.com.