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About Us

North Florida Land Trust (NFLT) was founded in 1999 and is a local land conservation 501(c)3 organization committed to protecting and preserving the natural landscape and ecosystems of North Florida. Throughout its 25-year history, NFLT has remained steadfast in its focus on preserving the most ecologically, agriculturally, and historically significant lands in North Florida. NFLT has a core service area of seven counties in the region: Nassau, Duval, Clay, St. Johns, Putnam, Baker, and Flagler. Within these seven counties and the O2O (Osceola to Ocala Corridor), NFLT has conserved more than 36,000 acres including coastal salt marshes, pine forests, cypress swamps, and beaches, all of which play an integral role in our region’s remarkable array of ecosystems.

 

Mission

To preserve and enhance our quality of life by protecting North Florida’s irreplaceable natural environment.

Values

We believe…

• We all bring our greatest strengths, and together they add power.

• Our dedication to innovation and new ideas gets results.

• Our dependability and accuracy earn trust.

• Consistently being transparent and honest brings us together.

• Our passion and connection to protecting our natural environment make a difference.




 
 

 

Preserved Lands

Explore this map to discover the lands that have been protected by North Florida Land Trust. This map highlights land owned by NFLT, as well as conservation easements and lands we helped facilitate for conservation with other agencies. Check out our Connect Page and social media for upcoming events and service projects on our lands.

If you have an interest in finding out more about any of our preserved properties, please contact us at info@nflt.org.

 

The Importance of Conservation

Our entire quality of life is affected by our environment and to protect our environment is to protect ourselves. We depend on clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. We need green spaces to exercise our minds and bodies. We need our coastal salt water marshes for climate resiliency and hurricane buffering. With the exponential growth of the North Florida region and the associated development that comes with an influx of new residents also comes the challenge to protect why many of us came here and why so many stay. The time for protecting North Florida’s irreplaceable natural environment is now, before the opportunity is lost forever. Protecting the places we love will ensure the land is protected not just for our generation, but for generations to come.Florida’s economy is based on tourism and farming. Visitors come for our weather and access to water, our rivers, lakes, and beaches. Bio tourism is a growing industry in North Florida and the availability of places to recover and rehabilitate is critical to its success. The North Florida Land Trust implements collaborative approaches for long-term solutions commensurate with rapid growth. By protecting more of North Florida’s farms, forests, and natural areas, we maintain traditions, enhance lives, and sustain our expanding communities.

Board of Directors

Chair

 

Matt Rapp, PGA TOUR

Secretary

Rick Hoffman, Orion Solutions LLC

Treasurer

Scott Keith, Truist Retired

Members At Large

Pierre Allaire, The Gobel Group

Mike Barker, Terra Capital Holdings, Inc.

Lisa Barton, Lisa Barton Team Ponte Vedra Beach

Trey Chauncey, Brigadier General, US Army, Retired

Charles Commander, Heidrick & Struggles

T.R. Hainline, Rogers Towers

Carlton Jones, The Renaissance Group

Connie McDaniel, Coca-Cola Retired

Ted McGowan, Clay County Port, Inc.

Charley Moore, Highpost Capital

Shane Williams, Renasant Mortgage Lending

Shawna Yazzie, The NDN Companies Inc.

Ex Officio

Keith Holt, Stott Bolt

Meet Our President & CEO and Our Chief Operating Officer

The Rev. Cn. Allison DeFoor, President & CEO

Allison DeFoor is a seventh-generation Floridian who serves as North Florida Land Trust President and CEO.  Dr. DeFoor has been actively engaged in conservation as a trustee of the Florida Audubon Society, the Florida Land Trust Association, and 1000 Friends of Florida. In addition, he was Florida’s Everglades Czar, and in 2014, he co-chaired the passage of Amendment 1, which passed with 70% of the vote in Florida and authorized the most significant land protection efforts in world history.

DeFoor is also an Episcopal priest who has served as Canon to the Ordinary to the Bishop of the Diocese of Florida. Dr. DeFoor, who has degrees in law, criminology, and theology, previously served parishes in four prisons around Tallahassee and was an assistant at Grace Mission, an inner-city mission.

His background in criminal justice includes having been a prosecutor, public defender, judge, and the elected Sheriff of Monroe County.

In addition, Dr. DeFoor served as a law professor at the University of Miami, a member of the Board of Governors of the Florida Bar, and a trustee of numerous boards, including the Florida Chamber Foundation, Florida Historical Society, Associated Industries of Florida, and Florida Tax Watch. In 1990, Dr. DeFoor ran for Lieutenant Governor of Florida as Governor Bob Martinez’s running mate. Upon moving to Jacksonville in 2015, he was invited twice to become a member of the Florida Times-Union newspaper editorial board. In Jacksonville, he has served on the boards of Operation New Hope, the Jacksonville Historical Society, Memorial Park Association, and the FSCJ Foundation. Dr. DeFoor recently graduated from the Nonprofit Executive Program (NPEP) at the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at Florida State University and he currently serves as a trustee with the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.

 

Roney Gutierrez, Chief Operating Officer

Roney joined NFLT in 2022 and serves as Chief Operating Officer. Roney works closely with the Directors of Conservation Acquisitions, Land Stewardship, and Philanthropic Services and oversees day-to-day operations and administrative functions to allow the NFLT team to deliver impactful conservation work.

Roney managed multiple land conservation programs with a combined budget of over $1 Billion for the USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service in multiple States including North Carolina, California, Hawaii, and Florida. He also worked in Latin America for seven years as Chief of Party of the AGUA Consortium: Five International & National non-governmental organizations that successfully advanced integrated watershed management and land conservation.

Roney graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in Agronomy and from North Carolina State University with a master’s degree in Soil Science. He and his wife have three children – each born in a different country of the world.

Meet the NFLT Team

Operations

Michelle Smith

Operations and Grants Manager
msmith@nflt.org

Michelle Smith was invited to join the team at North Florida Land Trust in December of 2023 and serves as the Operations and Grants Manager in support of the President, the Board of Directors, and NFLT Operations. She also supports NFLT’s RCPP grant management.
Michelle’s professional background includes ten years of service with Watson Realty Corp., and Secure Investments Realty Corp., in finance, management, and marketing roles of their property management divisions in Gainesville, FL, and six years with Innovation Hub at UF, Gainesville, FL as an administrative specialist. She worked for six years as the office/business manager in the family’s construction business. And, in the summer of 2020, she joined Heartland Consulting as a contract employee of the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) and later was promoted to the position of Easements Realty Specialist, contracted through The Trust for Tomorrow. At USDA-NRCS, Michelle gained unique skills and knowledge she will put into practice at NFLT.
“Growing up in Florida has been one of my life’s greatest privileges. From a very early age, I grew to love the land and all the treasures it held. My childhood was such a precious time and now working with North Florida Land Trust, I can make a difference so that my family, friends, and community find that same joy of living in rural Florida. We’re bringing together the right partners and communities to care for the most valuable Florida asset... The LAND!”

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Conservation Acquisitions

Ramesh Buch

Director of Conservation Acquisitions
rbuch@nflt.org

Ramesh joined NFLT in 2021 and serves as the Director of Conservation Acquisitions.

Ramesh has been a full-time real estate professional in the Gainesville area since relocating here with his wife and twins in 2001. He has had a 25-year career in real estate, focused almost entirely on the acquisition of environmentally sensitive lands in Florida. He stood up and ran the Alachua County Forever land conservation program for 16 years. Most recently, he was the Real Estate Services Director for the St. Johns River Water Management District. He has completed almost 50,000 acres of property transactions worth over $152 million.

Upon his retirement from the public sector, Ramesh joined NFLT to continue his passion for conservation land deals. His strengths are problem-solving and negotiating deals and enjoys the collaborative approach to transactions. He believes the best solutions are those that make environmental and economic sense.

Ramesh is a Marine Science graduate of the University of Miami, attended Texas A&M for graduate work in Marine Fisheries, was a diver, an open-water yachtsman, and has played a variety of sports before settling on Pickleball. He likes to hike, travel, cook and eat interesting foods, and read spy novels in his spare time. He and his wife currently have two adopted cats, two adopted dogs, and one fish (purchased).

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Heather Nagy

Strategic Conservation Planning Coordinator
hnagy@nflt.org

Heather Nagy has joined NFLT in 2020 and serves as the Conservation Acquisitions Coordinator. Nagy works with the director of real estate and community conservation to coordinate land transactions, manage the real estate database and research potential real estate projects.

Nagy comes to NFLT after working for three years at Peninsula Open Space Trust in California where she managed the conservation easement program and helped facilitate acquisition projects. She also worked with Tar River Land Conservancy in North Carolina. There she helped develop a strategic conservation plan for the Upper Tar River Basin.

Nagy earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, her masters of environmental management from Duke University and has received a graduate certificate in geographic information systems (GIS). For her master’s project, Nagy researched lemur habitat in a national park in Madagascar and developed a GIS-based model of forest loss to help guide future conservation projects in the area.

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Kim Hall

Conservation Transactions Manager
khall@nflt.org

Kimberly (Kim) Hall joined NFLT in 2021 and serves as the Conservation Transactions Manager. Kim began her journey in real estate in 2001, in residential real estate appraisal. Her experience in the appraisal field led to a 15-year career with the St. Johns River Water Management District. During her tenure there, she participated in or facilitated the acquisition of nearly 132,000 acres, at a cost of just over $464.5 million. While at the District, she managed a close partnership with North Florida Land Trust building valuable lasting relationships. This led to several acquisitions in the Camp Blanding Buffer area and Partnership in the O2O.

During her time at the District, she earned her Bachelor’s in Legal Services bolstering her negotiating, research, and contracting skills. While on a 3-year hiatus from Conservation acquisitions, Kim further sharpened her skills in product development, product launch, and vendor management with FPL Energy Services, managing and launching statewide projects. Eager to return to her first passion and armed with her 20 years of real estate and contracts knowledge, she is no stranger to NFLT’s mission as she makes her return to Conservation Acquisition.

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Heather Barnes

O2O Community Outreach Coordinator
hbarnes@nflt.org

Heather Barnes joined NFLT in 2022, initially serving as Real Estate Coordinator. She began as a volunteer with a desire to expand her knowledge in conservation and sustainable living. This curiosity quickly led to a part-time Administrative Assistant position, supporting through periods of change. Barnes comes to us with a background of three years in Real Estate and Property Management, as well as seven years in Home Health/Hospice Operations and Implementations. She was a part of a team that assisted agencies nationwide, teaching on the use of electronic medical record software and transitional processes. Although she experienced a variety of landscapes during her travels, it was a paddle on the Santa Fe River that sparked her passion for the environment when she experienced the healing powers of water first-hand. Since then, she acquired a bit of knowledge in the field of Conservation, assisting Putnam Land Conservancy with several of their donation transactions. It was during this time she realized how crucial conserving land is to the health of our environment. Over the years, she has come to appreciate growing up a native Floridian, in the Lake Region of Keystone Heights. In her spare time, you can find Barnes exploring outside and enjoying the gifts natural Florida has to offer. She aspires to hone her craft in land acquisition, as well as educate others on the opportunities involved with protecting our natural world.

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Land Stewardship

Rianna Elliott

Director of Land Stewardship
relliott@nflt.org

Rianna joined NFLT in 2021 and serves as the Director of Land Stewardship. Rianna will oversee the stewardship department and will be responsible for the management, restoration and maintenance of NFLT’s preserves and conservation easements. Her duties include a supervisory role of the stewardship department and the direct implementation of certain program areas. She will also serve on the leadership team and contribute to the nonprofit's organizational development and strategic decision-making.

Rianna comes to NFLT with over a decade of experience with the Florida Park Service. As a Park Services Specialist, she focused most of her energy on resource management and prescribed fire. Over time, she achieved her certified prescribed burn manager status as well as other certifications to enable her to better preserve the lands she was charged with restoring and protecting. She has also assisted multiple agencies with prescribed fire through trainings and knowledge exchanges over the years. Prior to her work with Florida Park Service, Rianna spent several years with a non-profit organization working with at-risk youth.

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Mark Manning

Land Manager
mmanning@nflt.org

Mark joined NFLT in 2022 and serves as the Land Manager. He joined the Florida Park Service, where he spent 7 years honing his skills in resource management and learning more about the incredible habitats and species that make our home so special. Since 2015 he has had the opportunity to burn most of Florida's pyric ecosystems as well as learning from some of the best prescription burners in the southeast.

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Aaryn Tarver

Land Stewardship Biologist
ATarver@nflt.org

Aaryn is a graduate of the University of Tennessee where she earned her degree in wildlife and fisheries management. She most recently worked as an environmental consultant. She has served as a wildlife biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) where she received safe capture training and worked with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources as a wildlife technician. Tarver holds numerous certifications including as a certified prescribed burn manager and a FWC certified gopher tortoise agent.

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Philanthropic Services

Lee Anderson Louy, EdD

Director of Philanthropic Services
landersonlouy@nflt.org

Lee Anderson Louy joined NFLT in 2021 and serves as the Director of Philanthropic Services. Lee helps individuals and organizations develop and achieve their philanthropic goals. Bringing over a decade of nonprofit leadership and donor experience, Lee is passionate about advancing the NFLT mission for Jacksonville and beyond.

Before working for NFLT, Lee worked as the Director of Development with the University of North Florida, focusing on developing and nurturing long-term relationships on behalf of the University. She was with the University for nearly nine years, and prior, Lee served as the Director of the Bennie Furlong Senior Center with the City of Jacksonville. Lee graduated from the University of North Florida with a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, holds a master’s degree in Public Administration, and earned her bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Leisure Services Administration from Florida State University.

Lee is a Jacksonville native with a deep admiration for the Northeast Florida region and is invested in creating a lasting impact in our community.

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Sarah Hande

Communications and Development Officer
shande@nflt.org

Sarah Hande joined NFLT in 2021 and serves as the Communications and Development Officer. In her role Sarah helps NFLT achieve its mission by engaging constituents and community members across the seven counties NFLT serves. Sarah’s career has spanned continents and cultures, from working as a flight attendant with a South African airline right after apartheid ended, to managing three consumer magazine titles and their portfolio of events in London. She brings with her more than twenty years of experience in project management and community engagement. In 2003, she moved to Jacksonville and worked with the City of Jacksonville before transitioning into a community engagement role at Florida Blue in their Corporate Social Responsibility area. Sarah moved into the nonprofit sector in 2015 and has served as the Associate Director of Development at MOCA Jacksonville (a cultural institute of the University of North Florida) and most recently served as the Director of Development at the Cathedral Arts Project. Sarah is passionate about connecting individuals with the NFLT mission and in turn working to preserve North Florida’s natural resources and environment. Sarah grew up near the water in Virginia Beach and enjoys doing anything outside.

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Abby Carden

Membership and Data Coordinator
acarden@nflt.org

Abby Carden joined NFLT in 2022 and serves as the Membership and Data Coordinator. In her role, Abby provides support to the development team with coordinating our membership program, data analysis and gift entry management.

Before joining the NFLT team, Abby worked at the Make-A-Wish Foundation of East Tennessee for 8 years. She began her journey there as an intern in programs, dabbled in database management, and ultimately developed into the Director of Program Services role. Abby graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. Most recently, she taught Kindergarten at a local private school.

Abby moved to Jacksonville from Chattanooga, TN, in 2019. She and her husband have two little humans at home, and the family loves weekend beach trips. They spend lots of time at neighborhood playgrounds and in their backyard looking for frogs and lizards and enjoying the lush FL landscape.

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