August 31, 2022

The nonprofit was helping the City of Jacksonville to keep the land free from development

North Florida Land Trust has raised $62,500 through community donations to help the City of Jacksonville purchase 4.5 acres in Mandarin that will be added to Ferngully Preserve. The City of Jacksonville asked the nonprofit land conservation organization to assist with the acquisition and has committed to match the donations with another $62,5000 to save the property that was in danger of development. The land is located along Woodside Lane adjacent to the City of Jacksonville’s Ferngully Preserve and is bordered on the east side by property owned by Duval Audubon who also contributed to the fundraising initiative.

“We are incredibly thankful for the local community support of the Ferngully Preserve Addition. We received donations from 128 donors, half from the Mandarin community,” said Lee Anderson Louy, director of philanthropic services for NFLT. “A special thanks to the Iva and Gene Gray Memorial Endowment, which made a significant contribution to help us reach our fundraising goal of $62,500. North Florida Land Trust’s ability to protect and preserve more natural places in Florida depends on our partners and donors, and we are extremely grateful.”

Development of the land, which is primarily wetlands, would have caused significant environmental damage to the area. The property serves as a habitat for several threatened or endangered species including the Atlantic sturgeon, wood stork, and gopher tortoise, as well as important endangered plant habitats. The wetlands also help to regulate the area’s water flow to help prevent flooding.

City Council Member Michael Boylan, who serves District 6 in the Mandarin area, reached out to NFLT for assistance along with his fellow City Council Member Matt Carlucci and the City’s Assistant General Counsel.

Boylan said, “North Florida Land Trust played an invaluable role in the creative manner by which we were able to affect the expansion of the Ferngully Preserve. Beyond their commitment to administer the fundraising efforts they actively engaged many of their ongoing supporters which led to reaching the goal of $62,500. I join my friends and neighbors in Mandarin in thanking them for their support and for the Administration’s commitment to providing the match.” 

The city is currently doing its due diligence as well as working to finalize the purchase and sales agreement. The transaction will also need approval from the City Council before it can be completed. The 4.5 acres are expected to be added to the existing 21-acre Ferngully Preserve which was purchased in 2001 through the Preservation Project with funds from the Better Jacksonville Plan.

NFLT Board Chair John Delaney said, “I am proud that the team at NFLT was able to accomplish this fundraising goal and help the city expand preservation lands that we were able to save during my time as Mayor. Preservation was one of my administration’s main areas of focus and I am happy to see that our city is still working to save these natural spaces.”

About North Florida Land Trust

North Florida Land Trust is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the quality of life by protecting North Florida’s irreplaceable natural environment. Founded in 1999, NFLT has preserved tens of thousands of acres of land through the 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.