Osprey, FL (May 7, 2020) Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast announces a $300,000 challenge campaign that will secure the permanent protection of Orange Hammock Ranch. The foundation needs to raise $1.5 million by June 1st to conserve the 5,777-acre ranch forever. Conservation Foundation was $600,000 away from that goal when a group of donors agreed to pledge $300,000 as a challenge to the community to help raise the remaining $300,000 needed.
“This is an historic moment for our community. For nearly two decades it has been a major conservation priority to save this land,” notes Christine Johnson, president of Conservation Foundation. “During this pandemic, we’ve seen people flocking to our public open spaces underlining our need for more places to enjoy nature. Orange Hammock Ranch will be open to the public, all 5,777 acres! We are grateful for the passionate donors who pledged $300,000 in hopes that their generous challenge inspires others to make an impact forever.”
When the $1.5 million is raised, it will bring $19.5 million in Florida Forever dollars to this region, and free up $9 million for other land conservation projects that Sarasota County had reserved for Orange Hammock Ranch. This means the community’s contribution will be leveraged 19 times for land conservation.
The community may learn more and donate online at www.conservationfoundation.com .
In February, the Florida State Cabinet voted to purchase Orange Hammock Ranch contingent upon Conservation Foundation’s pledge to raise $1.5 million. Florida Forever funds will contribute $19.5 million toward the $21 million purchase.
The ranch is located north 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. Importantly, the property is connected with 120,000 acres of protected land, making it viable habitat for Florida panther, which are now breeding in nearby Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area.
About Conservation Foundation
Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast protects land and water in Southwest Florida for the benefit of people and nature. Working with landowners, businesses, and government, Conservation Foundation saves land forever, protecting those special natural lands that make this region extraordinary. 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 at www.conservationfoundation.com.