Native Florida Keys Hammock Protected

Islamorada, 1/14/02 – The Trust for Public Land has purchased a 15-acre tract in this classic Keys fishing village that will preserve one of Florida’s rarest upland habitats, the tropical hardwood hammock.

The property is a 15-acre tract of native tropical hardwood hammock and mangroves that features rare Keys flora and fauna, including the endangered East Indian mahogany tree and the tree snail. The property is situated along the old Overseas Highway (State Road 4A) in Monroe County on Plantation Key in the upper Florida Keys, about two hours south of Miami. It is bordered on the north and south by residential development, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the west by old U.S. Highway 5.

“The site is a particularly beautiful piece of property in our community, and we’re so pleased to be able to save it for perpetuity,” said Frank Kulisky, Mayor of Islamorada. “It represents an untouched portion of Keys native hammock. The village council and the entire village are dedicated to preserving public lands, and the incorporation of our community has allowed us to step up the pace. We’ve found our relationship with the Trust for Public Land to be outstanding, and we look forward to the culmination of the current acquisition to add to the public lands that Islamorada maintains.”

Plans are to name the site after a member of the Keoskie family, which owned the property and worked cooperatively with TPL on the purchase.

“It has been a great pleasure working with the landowners, the Land Authority, and the Village on the protection of this important community resource,” said TPL projects director Kevin Mooney. “The Village recognizes, quite rightly, that communities like Islamorada are defined as much by the spaces between their buildings as by the buildings themselves.”

The Village of Islamorada is one of the Upper Florida Keys’ most scenic fishing villages. In an effort to retain the unique characteristics of an old time Florida Keys community, the village established a Land Acquisition Advisory Committee to identify key open space parcels for acquisition. The Monroe County Land Authority will be acquiring the site from TPL later this month, with title to the property donated to the Village of Islamorada for permanent management.

Kulisky said the community does not anticipate doing any significant work on the property, other than cleanup. The site will be kept primarily in its natural state with limited public access via walking trails leading to the water. “We’re anxious to get started on that and maintain another piece of pristine property for our community and our future,” he said.

About TPL: Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for public use and enjoyment. Operating in Florida since 1975, TPL has partnered with private landowners, communities, and government agencies to protect more than 225 special places throughout the state. In South Florida, TPL has worked to preserve Spring Garden Point Park, the Miami Circle, the Key West Custom House and the Key Deer Refuge. The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money magazine recently named TPL the nation’s most efficient large conservation charity for the second year in a row, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs.