TALLAHASSEE — Governor Rick Scott and the Cabinet members approved the acquisition of a conservation easement of more than 6,000 acres within the Old Town Creek Watershed Florida Forever project. This project will preserve a large landscape and watershed area that is home to several natural communities and plant and animal species that depend on them. This project includes the headwaters of Bee Branch and Old Town Creek that feed into Charlie Creek, which ultimately feeds into the Peace River.
“DEP is excited to complete important acquisitions like this one,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “This project will help protect water and natural resources for future generations.”
The project was ranked number 27 in the Florida Forever Less-Than-Fee projects category. The property is adjacent to the Saddle Blanket Lakes Scrub Preserve, public conservation land owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy, and is in close proximity to the Avon Park Air Force Range Sentinel Landscape and the Everglades Headwater National Wildlife Refuge. Additionally, the property is located within the 2013 Florida Ecological Greenways Network.
“The Nature Conservancy is proud to support the acquisition of the Old Town Creek Conservation Easement,” said Temperince Morgan, executive director, The Nature Conservancy in Florida. “This project supports a variety of threatened and endangered plants and animals, and ultimately helps protect the water quality in the Peace River.”
“We are excited to see the Department bring these types of good ecosystem protection projects to the Cabinet for approval,” said Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon Florida. “This acquisition will help protect the headwaters of important Peace River tributaries, conserve flatwoods and floodplain and protect water resources.”
A conservation easement is a restriction placed on a piece of property to protect lands for future generations, while allowing owners to continue to live on and use their land. Through this conservation easement, the state of Florida will protect the land and water resources found within the Old Town Creek Watershed project, while also maintaining the historic homestead on the site.
–Florida Department of Environmental Protection
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