OSPREY, FL (August 6, 2020) Sarasota County and Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast announce the permanent protection of 40 acres within the Myakka River region in Sarasota County. This significant property links Old Miakka Preserve, located at the eastern end of Fruitville Road, to more than 120,000 acres of protected lands surrounding the Myakka River and the Tatum Sawgrass Marsh. The property is a rare remnant of longleaf pine forest and Florida scrub, most of which is gone in Sarasota County. The property’s surface waters flow into the Tatum Sawgrass Marsh and the Myakka River. Conservation of such rare scrub habitat and clean-water resources is vital to the future of the local environment.
Sarasota County purchased the property using its Environmentally Sensitive Land Protection Program (ESLPP) funding, a voter-approved program that enables important natural areas to be purchased for conservation, protecting environmental assets for the public benefit. Conservation Foundation initiated the purchase of this small but critical property by working with the conservation-minded landowner, MAG Properties, Inc.
“This strategic purchase is a good example of Sarasota County’s commitment to protecting the natural resources of our region,” stated Nicole Rissler, Director of Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources.
Last year, Conservation Foundation bought the adjacent southeast 38 acres from MAG Properties, Inc. creating Tatum Sawgrass Scrub Preserve, and began restoration for the Florida scrub jay. Together with the County’s new addition to Old Miakka Preserve, the Florida scrub jay will benefit from more protected scrub habitat.
The Florida scrub jay is found in Florida but nowhere else in the world. Unfortunately, the birds are nearing extinction in Sarasota County due to isolation and inbreeding. Only by maintaining connections to other populations will the birds survive. The connection of this property to other protected lands may be an essential step in the scrub jay’s recovery. To aid in the Florida scrub jay’s recovery, local partners are forming a plan to protect and restore “stepping stone” properties linking South Venice Lemon Bay Preserve to Oscar Scherer State Park, and Oscar Scherer State Park to Duette Preserve in Manatee County.
“Sarasota County’s 40-acre purchase is an essential link in our goals to protect key areas within the Myakka River region so that we have clean water and abundant wildlife,” notes Christine Johnson, Conservation Foundation president. “We are grateful for the County’s commitment to the big picture of regional land conservation, and to the land owners, MAG Properties, Inc., for their dedicated conservation ethic. This is a win-win for our citizens and wildlife: safeguarding clean water and protecting habitat.”
The County’s purchase was completed on August 6th.
About Sarasota County’s Environmental Programs
Sarasota County’s Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program (ESLPP) and Neighborhood Parkland Acquisition Program (NPP) are voter-approved and taxpayer-funded programs designed to acquire and protect environmental lands and parklands. ESLPP was approved in 1999 to protect native habitats by not more than 0.25 mil ad valorem tax collected through 2019. In November 2005, voters approved a second referendum extending the program through 2029 and expanding the county’s land protection efforts to include neighborhood parkland acquisitions. Learn more at www.scgov.net.
About Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast
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.