Osprey, FL (May 26, 2020) Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast announces the successful completion of its campaign to raise $1.5 million to conserve the 5,777-acre Orange Hammock Ranch in Sarasota County.
“We are thrilled at the outpouring of generosity from foundations and donors with gifts of all sizes,” notes Christine Johnson, president of Conservation Foundation. “Saving land as significant as Orange Hammock Ranch is a once in a lifetime opportunity. This success means protection for our drinking water, habitat for wildlife, and public open space for all to explore and enjoy.”
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will purchase Orange Hammock Ranch in the next few days using Conservation Foundation’s $1.5 million raised with the community’s help. The ranch will be managed by Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission as a Wildlife Management Area.
In February, the Florida State Cabinet voted to purchase Orange Hammock Ranch contingent upon Conservation Foundation’s pledge to raise $1.5 million by June 1st. Florida Forever funds will contribute $19.5 million toward the $21 million purchase. The purchase is pending completion.
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.