Land owned by the district helps protect plant and wildlife habitat
The St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board has approved the acquisition of 596 acres in Lake County to be used for conservation.
“Our focus remains centered on protecting our natural systems while supporting Florida’s growth,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “Acquisition and enhancement of this land will help protect and improve natural systems and by extension, water resources. This land also protects plant habitat and will provide new areas for public recreation and environmental education.”
The property also is located within the Wekiva River Protection Zone and is considered a high priority strategic habitat conservation area by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The property was proposed as Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) mitigation for local projects because it provides important protection for a portion of Blackwater Creek (a tributary of the Wekiva River), has substantial habitat diversity, and has the potential to support multiple threatened and endangered species.
The property is within the Wekiva-Ocala Greenway Florida Forever Project and is contiguous with the Seminole State Forest, which is managed by the Florida Forest Service. Located southeast of Lake Norris Conservation Area and between Eustis and Deland, the property will connect to other public lands, expanding recreational opportunities for visitors.
Funded by FDOT, the purchase price for the 596 acres was just under $1.3 million.
Once acquired by the district, it’s anticipated that the Florida Forest Service will manage the land as part of the Seminole State Forest.