State Closes on Conservation Land Purchase in Southwest Florida

Today, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in collaboration with The Trust for Public Land, acquired 620 acres of conservation lands within the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) Florida Forever project for $9,765,000.

The CREW project provides connectivity between three conservation areas, offers critical protection for wildlife like the Florida panther and Florida black bear, and protects the flow of water into the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park and other areas. The project supports at least two species of rare and endangered orchids and includes an unusual strain of dwarf bald cypress.

“Adding this land to CREW will provide many important benefits, including protecting a number of imperiled species, preserving southwest Florida’s water supply and providing connections between three conservation areas critical to the restoration of the Everglades,” said DEP Secretary Jon Steverson.

“At The Trust for Public Land our mission is about conserving land for people. The conservation of this land offers greater opportunity for people to connect with natural Florida as seen by early Floridians. We thank the previous owners, the Gargiulo family, for helping conserve this land,” said Doug Hattaway, Senior Project Manager with The Trust for Public Land.

The property will be managed by the South Florida Water Management District as an addition to the CREW Wildlife Environmental Area to improve the environmental values and ecological functions of the watershed and provide public recreational opportunities such as hiking, wildlife viewing and birding.

“Restoring this truly significant and special Southwest Coast ecosystem depends upon placing into public ownership the land needed to link the pieces of this natural expanse,” said SFWMD Executive Director Blake Guillory. “This acquisition is another great example of real progress in protecting our regional water resources.”

The Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund approved the acquisition on January 13, 2015 at the Cabinet meeting in Tallahassee, Florida.