Pioneer Trail Preserved (FL)

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, 11/10/2005: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit land conservation organization, announced today the preservation of a 1,640-acre parcel of land between New Smyrna Beach and Deland that fronts Pioneer Trail. TPL purchased the property from Pioneer Trail Reserve and Lunsford Brothers Ranch in October and held the property until Volusia County purchased it using funds from Volusia Forever, the county’s land acquisition grant program.

This property was a high priority parcel within the County’s 50,000+ acre Volusia-Flagler Conservation Corridor. The goal of the corridor is to preserve a continuous stretch of environmentally significant land extending from Tiger Bay State Forest, through the central wetlands and flatwoods of Volusia County, to the marshes of the St. Johns River.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to acquire this great piece of property,” said Doug Weaver, land acquisition and management director for Volusia County. “This property is important because of its strategic location in the Volusia-Flagler Conservation Corridor.”

A large portion of the corridor contains habitat for endangered and threatened species, as well as several natural communities that are critically imperiled or rare in the state. The Pioneer Trail property itself contains upland scrub communities interspersed with floodplain wetlands that provide a habitat for the endangered Gopher Tortoise, the Eastern Indigo Snake, the Florida Black Bear and a variety of endangered bird species.

The site was acquired primarily for its conservation value, but the county intends to allow public access for a variety of uses, including birding, hiking, passive recreation activities and horseback riding for the many equestrians in central Volusia County.

“The Trust for Public Land has been great during the acquisition process,” said Weaver. “We were impressed by their tireless work to help make this possible.”

Though relatively remote at present, the property is within one of the fastest growing counties in the nation, and is located along a rapidly developing east-west corridor between New Smyrna Beach and DeLand. The area’s unprecedented real estate boom has created a very challenging environment for public conservation land acquisition programs, and many of the programs are losing some of their most important priority areas to private bidders.? The Volusia Forever program, while among the most successful local programs in the state, is no exception. However, in spite of facing tough competition in purchasing the land along the corridor, the county was victorious in securing this critical southern anchor to the project area and an important ecosystem of upland scrub and bottomland floodplain.

“The success of the Volusia Forever program and the completion of the Pioneer Trail project is due in large part to the Land Acquisition and Management staff of Volusia County,” said Bob Guido, senior project manager for the Trust for Public Land. “The site will help connect existing public lands to the north and west, and will provide a key wildlife corridor through central Volusia County. It sets a standard for environmental protection in the State.”

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 46 states. In Florida, TPL has protected more than 300 sites – over 200,000 acres at a market value of about $500 million. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information please contact us at 850-222-7911 or visit us on the web at