June 10, 2020, Jacksonville, Fla. – The land will eventually be sold to the National Park Service to add to the national park system.
North Florida Land Trust has now acquired approximately three acres of land located near the Theodore Roosevelt Area and the 1898 Spanish American War Fort. The nonprofit land conservation organization purchased 2.7 acres of land at the request of the National Park Service from Cathy and Fred Whatley. Another 13,658 square feet of land in a nearby parcel was donated to NFLT by Dave Coderre. This is the second sale the Whatleys have made to NFLT. The first was 440 acres on Big Talbot Island in 2012.
“The National Park Service was very interested in the land and asked if we could help them by purchasing the land from the Whatleys who wanted to sell now,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “We will hold onto and protect the land until the National Park Service is ready to take possession. Eventually, we will sell it to add to the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.”
The smaller parcel of land donated by Coderre will later be used by the NPS for public parking to allow access to the 1898 Spanish American War Fort which NFLT gifted to the NPS in 2018. NFLT served as the acquisition and fundraising partner of the NPS and purchased the historic property in 2016 through donations from the City of Jacksonville, Delores Barr Weaver Fund and the community.
The 2.7 acres are directly adjacent to the Theodore Roosevelt Area and the NPS could use the property to create a new trailhead for the Willie Browne Trail. The trail is named after Browne who acquired 600 acres from his father at the age of 16 with the condition that the land remains in its natural state. Browne lived in a cabin on the property, with no electricity or running water, until his death on Dec. 14, 1970. He donated the 600 acres to The Nature Conservancy in 1969, a year before his death, and his only request was it be named after President Theodore Roosevelt who Browne admired for his conservation efforts. The National Park Service took over ownership and management in 1990.
McCarthy added, “We are glad we were able to again work with the National Park Service to save and conserve land to add to the national park system. We look forward to continuing our relationship to preserve natural spaces for future generations.”
About North Florida Land Trust
North Florida Land Trust is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to protect the natural resources, historic places and working lands (farms and ranches) throughout north Florida. Founded in 1999, NFLT has preserved tens of thousands of acres of land through donation or purchase of land as well as conservation easements. NFLT is funded largely by private and corporate contributions and works closely with willing landowners and public agencies at all levels of government, not-for-profit partners, and foundations.