September 11, 2020

The acquisition is the final piece of privately owned property in the preserve

North Florida Land Trust has acquired the final piece of privately owned property within the Trail Ridge Preserve in Clay County. The nonprofit land conservation organization purchased 40 acres of land located near Camp Blanding and within the critical Ocala to Osceola, or O2O, wildlife corridor. The purchase means the entire Trail Ridge Preserve will remain undeveloped forever.

“Acquiring this final piece of property will allow us to better manage Trail Ridge Preserve using management techniques like prescribed burning,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “The preserve is habitat for some endangered wildlife and preserving it is crucial to their survival. This purchase will guarantee this land is free from development in perpetuity. We once again partnered with Camp Blanding to acquire these lands which will also serve as a buffer for the military installation.”

The property in the O2O was purchased through funding from the Army National Guard. It is part of the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program which funds lands identified for conservation through the Army Compatible Use Buffer program designed to secure buffers around military installations. It allows soldiers at Camp Blanding to train up to the fence line without fear of disturbing the quality of life for neighbors.

The acquisition of the 40 acres is comprised of upland sandhill habitats. It is located within the O2O corridor, a 1.6 million-acre network of public and private lands that connect the Ocala and Osceola National Forests. It provides habitat connectivity for the black bear, along with endangered species like the red-cockaded woodpecker, indigo snakes and gopher tortoises. NFLT leads the O2O Wildlife Corridor Partnership, an effort by public and private organizations to accelerate land conservation within this wildlife corridor. The 73,000-acre Camp Blanding Joint Training Center is central to the O2O landscape and partnership.

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.