The WK Preservation Group Announces Benefit
Music by Roger Bartlett (Jimmy Buffett’s original guitarist from his Coral Reefer Band)
To help save the vanishing wilderness in Florida’s most densely populated county, the WK Preservation Group (WKPG) has announced a festive Jimmy Buffett themed benefit will take place on Thursday, May 19 from 6:30 to 9:30 pm at Sea Sea Riders in Dunedin. The public is invited to join grassroots organizers, neighbors, friends, concerned citizens and VIPs to help save “slices of paradise” starting with the West Klosterman Preserve and growing from there to other parts of Pinellas County.
Guests are invited for a fun night of tropical celebration that includes an auction with a variety of items from a “BEST OF ST. PETE” package to a TWO NIGHT STAY & PLAY at Innisbrook Resort. Enjoy music by Roger Bartlett (Jimmy Buffett’s original guitarist from his Coral Reefer Band) and keyboard artist Robin Swenson (best known for his work with Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons). There will be food by Sea Sea Riders, beverages, a cash bar, and a silent auction. The ticket price of $50 per person includes music, food, and a drink ticket. All proceeds go to the identification and preservation of slices of paradise in the Pinellas County area. Tickets are available at Reserve your spot now at: https://ticketstripe.com/SaveASliceOfParadiseMay19 – DRESS: Florida Festive Cocktail
Questions about the events? Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org .
WK PRESERVATION GROUP
An organization of concerned citizens, the WK Preservation Group (WKPG) is close to succeeding in saving 14 acres of pristine and ecologically important land from becoming a condominium development. Environmental scientists have toured the property and documented more than 60 species of plants and wildlife, including gopher tortoises, flying squirrels, osprey and eagles, wood storks, an ancient and endangered Florida rosemary, giant air plants, longleaf pine and many others. Flaked chert is a common find and evidence of ancient native living areas. The Preserve is coastal upland adjacent to the 76-acre Mariner’s Point Management Area (MPMA), an environmental lowland preservation area owned by Pinellas County and has functioned as one ecosystem with the MPMA for over a hundred years. Success in saving the Preserve leads to:
• Protection for rare, threatened, and endangered wildlife
• Promoting groundwater recharge and improving surface water quality
• Avoiding increased stress on overcrowded roads and infrastructure
• Preserving irreplaceable land for generations
Success in saving the Preserve will enable WKPG to continue to identify and work with county and state authorities on future conservation projects.
The Pinellas County School District purchased the West Klosterman land from the Diocese of St. Petersburg in 1996 with an eye toward building a school or other educational facility. After determining the property was not needed, the School Board voted to put the land up for sale. A developer expressed interest, and the school board agreed to sell the land to the developer for $3.3 million. A nearby resident noticed people gathered at the property’s gate in January 2020 and learned of the agreement. This discovery led to formation of the WK Preservation Group as a 501(c)(3) charity that has led a campaign to save the West Klosterman Preserve for over two years. In that time, WKPG has united over 1000 supporters and donors to commit to saving the Preserve, and then to identify more conservation opportunities for future campaigns.
Progress for the Preserve
On June 8, 2021, after months of meetings and lobbying school board members and key county employees, the school board voted to allow the WK Preservation Group to purchase the property if it can raise the asking price of $3 million by July 1, 2022. To date, the group has raised $415,000 in pledges and donations, including a $250,000 pledge from the Indiana-based Efroymson Family Fund, and grants and pledges from organizations like the Clearwater Audubon Society, SunCoast Sierra Club, the Florida Native Plant Society, the Duckwall Foundation and from many individual donations through its website.
The growth in community support has inspired the Florida legislature to approve an appropriation of $3 million for the purchase of the WK Preserve from Pinellas County Schools to become a preserve to be owned and operated by Pinellas County. When signed by Governor DeSantis, Pinellas County, Pinellas County Schools, and WKPG will have the money to save the WK Preserve as envisioned in early 2020.
The WK Preservation Group has partnered with the Pinellas Community Foundation (PCF) to raise awareness and seek financial support. PCF was instrumental in securing the purchase of the 44-acre Gladys Douglas Hackworth Property in Dunedin and saving it from development.
This partnership with PCF will continue as the WK Preservation Group works on future conservation projects in our region.
WK Preservation Group website: https://www.wkpreserve.com
Pinellas Community Foundation’s West Klosterman Preserve Fund website –https://pinellascf.org/giving/wkpreserve-fund/