TARPON SPRINGS – Efforts to save the West Klosterman Preserve, a 14-acre tract of virgin land at the west end of Klosterman Road, have received a boost from an ardent supporter. From Aug. 1 to Sept. 30, all donations will be doubled in value, thanks to a matching challenge from Sally McConnell of St. Petersburg. The retired Pinellas County educator and philanthropist will match all donations to a total of $25,000.
“We’ve got to preserve it for the wildlife and for the benefit of the wildlife corridor” of smaller parcels that remain in densely populated Pinellas County, said McConnell. “That’s what makes this land precious to everyone all over the county.”
WK Preservation Group Inc., the small nonprofit behind the Save the West Klosterman Preserve effort, needs to raise $3 million to purchase the property from the Pinellas County School Board. The land is home to numerous endangered and threatened species including gopher tortoises, Florida rosemary and giant air plants.
The grassroots group was formed in 2020 after nearby residents learned the land was being offered to developers to create multifamily residences. Recognizing the ecological importance of the land and the dwindling supply of virgin land amid a development boom, the group asked the school board to give it time to raise the money and purchase the property for preservation.
Two legislative efforts to save the property fell through in 2022, and the group continues to negotiate with the school board for more time to raise funds. If the effort is successful, the land – a preserve in name only – will be donated to Pinellas County for perpetual preservation and annexation to the 76-acre Mariner’s Point Management Area.
For information on the summer donation-doubling challenge, the West Klosterman Preserve or ways to donate, visit www.wkpreserve.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.