North Florida Land Trust makes biggest purchase in nonprofit’s history

North Florida Land Trust makes biggest purchase in nonprofit’s history

Another agreement awaits raising of funds

The North Florida Land Trust ended 2015 on a high note with the purchase of its largest land acquisition in its 16-year history.

Located in Riverside, the conservation nonprofit closed on 2,551 acres along the Nassau River in late December. This was the largest piece of unprotected land in the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.

“This is an incredibly important acquisition to the Land Trust,” said Jim McCarthy, executive director of NFLT. “It is important not only because of its size but also because of the environmental benefits and the opportunity to convey it to a long term partner, the National Park Service, to be protected and managed forever.”

The land trust purchased the property for $750,000 from the estate of Theodore Carey, who died in 2014, and is currently in negotiations to sell the land to the National Park Service. The property is located along an 11-mile stretch from Interstate 95 to the Nassau Sound, in both Duval and Nassau counties.

NFLT seeks to buy fort

Earlier in the fall, the NFLT also reached an agreement to purchase an 1898 Spanish American War Fort from its current owner, who had planned to build a house on the site. It was one of four forts on St. Johns Bluff that acted in defense of the river and is the only one that still remains.

NFLT will be the acquisition and fundraising partner of the National Park Service on this project and must raise $400,000 to acquire the property.

The purchase means the only real fort in Duval County will remain intact. The property will be added to the National Park Service’s Ft. Caroline National Monument as a public access park and will be a critical addition to its interpretive and community education outreach programs.

Those interested in contributing to preserve the Spanish American War Fort should send their donation marked for the “Fort” to NFLT, 2038 Gilmore St., Jacksonville, FL 32204. For further information, contact Jim McCarthy at [email protected] or call (904) 479-1967.

Grant to help acquire more property

In July 2015 the land trust was approved for a Florida Communities Trust grant to acquire Bogey Creek Preserve, the 85-acre property on Clapboard and Bogey Creeks, neighboring Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park and the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.

For the property, appraised at $2 million, 80 percent of the cost would be covered by the grant. The estimated remaining $400,000 needed to purchase the preserve received a $100,000 boost from the Edward F. Hicks family, who donated the gift to NFLT last year.

A second donation in July, $210,000 from David and Robin Donoho, assisted in the late December purchase of the Nassau River property.

In addition, NFLT purchased 640 acres on Big Talbot Island from CSX, whose predecessor had acquired the square-mile property in the mid-19th century under a railroad grant from the Florida legislature.

North Florida Land Trust also closed on a 1.5-acre property and house known as Harrington House on Big Talbot Island in March 2015. The purchase was made possible by the Robert and Merrill Milam Trust. NFLT will preserve the property and ensure it will not be redeveloped in a manner conflicting with the management of Big Talbot Island Park and the scenic view from Kingsley Plantation.

The CSX acquisition and the Harrington House purchase are final pieces needed to ensure Big Talbot Island will be more than 99 percent preserved forever.

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