The property is located within a wildlife corridor and near Camp Blanding
Jacksonville, Fla., Dec. 4, 2019 – North Florida Land Trust has acquired land in Clay County that extends the Trail Ridge Preserve within the critical Ocala to Osceola, or O2O, wildlife corridor surrounding Camp Blanding. The property, which is 20 acres, is an important piece of land to acquire as it is both a prime candidate for conservation and eliminates the chance of any development on the land near the military installation.
“We have been working closely with Camp Blanding for a number of years to conserve land surrounding their property for not only purposes of serving as a buffer for them but for the important ecosystem benefits that these lands provide,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “The upland areas of this property provide crucial habitat for gopher tortoises which are considered threatened in Florida and a candidate for federal protection.”
The property is also important for its location between Camp Blanding lands and NFLT’s Trail Ridge Preserve. Adding this land to NFLT’s holdings in the area will allow easier use of land management techniques like prescribed burns.
This acquisition was made possible by 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.
This 20-acre parcel of land is part of the O2O wildlife corridor, a 1.6-million-acre network of public and private lands that connect the Ocala and Osceola National Forests. NFLT is leading efforts to accelerate land conservation in the O2O, and leads the O2O Wildlife Corridor Partnership, which is comprised of public and private organizations focused on this purpose. The 80,000-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. For more information, visit nflt.org.