December 10, 2020

The 716 acres of land is in Putnam County in the critical wildlife corridor

North Florida Land Trust has received a donation of a 716-acre conservation easement in Putnam County. The property, known as Welaka Woods, is located between Welaka State Forest and Lake George Conservation Area and is the largest conservation easement donation the nonprofit has received within the critical Ocala to Osceola, or O2O, Wildlife Corridor. The conservation easement was donated by Welaka Woods, LLC.

“Keeping this piece of land in its natural state is so important for many conservation reasons including the protection of wildlife and the protection of the water quality and water supply for the citizens of Florida,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “Welaka Woods is in a significant recharge area for the Floridan aquifer which is a vital drinking water source. It also has a variety of habitats that can host many species considered threatened or endangered. We thank the donor for this donation and for their passionate commitment to conservation.”

The variety of habitats found within the roughly 700 acres include longleaf pine sandhill, scrub, bay swamps, ephemeral ponds, forested wetlands and sandhill lakes. These habitats provide forage, nesting and safe passage to many threatened and endangered species including the American kestrel, Florida black bear, gopher tortoise and Florida sandhill crane. These environments also host plant species that are in danger of decline.

Conserving this property in perpetuity creates a more complete pattern of land protection within the O2O Corridor, a 1.6 million-acre corridor of public and private lands that connects the Ocala and Osceola National Forests. The land is also within the restricted airspace of the Pine Castle Bombing Range and keeping it free from civilian use and development will protect the military mission and allow naval air training without affecting the quality of life of potential neighbors.

NFLT leads a partnership of public and private organizations dedicated to conservation in the O2O. This conservation easement donation helps to further the goals of the O2O partnership by conserving this land for the future of the wildlife and forests. 

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.