Conservation nonprofit gains land, wins federal funds

Conservation nonprofit gains land, wins federal funds
Year-end land donation in Fleming Island and Middleburg, adjacent to the North Florida Land Trust’s Black Creek Preservation Priority Area

After ending 2017 with donations of hundreds of acres, the North Florida Land Trust ushered in the new year with the announcement it had been chosen for $3.56 million in federal funding.

Following year-end acquisitions of nearly 1,000 acres from generous donors, the Land Trust was chosen to receive the Regional Conservation Partnership Program award for its Ocala to Osceola (or O2O) corridor conservation project.

The O2O corridor provides an important habitat for the Florida Black Bear and endangered species like the red-cockaded woodpecker, indigo snakes and gopher tortoises. In total, there are 34 federally threatened and endangered species, and three disappearing habitat types within the O2O region, which stretches from the Ocala National Forest to the Osceola National Forest and eventually to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. 

“The RCPP funding will allow us to focus our attention on approximately 100,000 acres of privately owned land within the O2O corridor. We would like to acquire conservation easements on that property from willing landowners over the next five years,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT.

The year-end land gifts included 388 acres in Clay County along Black Creek and Doctors Lake, given by South Doctors Lake, Ltd.; more than 522 acres of land along the O2O wildlife corridor in White Springs, Florida in Columbia County from Rebecca Carter Nowicki in memory of John Michael Carter; more than 21 acres of land near the Jacksonville-Baldwin border from the Wilensky family; more than eight acres on the Northside from the Hoffman family, and three vacant properties from PHS Industries Inc., which owned the properties originally slated to be used by Google for its fiber-optics project in Jacksonville. Two of the properties are adjacent to one another on Alton Avenue on the Southside, the third is on Plymouth Street west of Murray Hill.

The Land Trust intends to sell the vacant lots as well as the Wilensky-Hoffman donations to help fund future conservation efforts.

“We plan to use these properties to raise money for our mission and will be selling them to interested parties. While we normally accept donations of land for conservation purposes, we accept donations of properties, stocks and other items that we can sell to raise money to support our operations or buy more land. The donor receives the charitable deduction and we advance our mission,” said McCarthy.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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