Jacksonville, Fla., Feb. 2, 2018 – North Florida Land Trust is pleased to announce another year full of accomplishments. NFLT grew, not only in the land they have been able to preserve, but also in their team and their presence throughout the state. In 2017, NFLT added more than 1,500 acres of land to their portfolio, including a property in North Jacksonville that will become NFLT’s first public park. NFLT also spearheaded a partnership between state, federal and nonprofit organizations to preserve land within a critical wildlife corridor, known as the “O2O,” or Ocala to Osceola corridor.
“One of our major accomplishments in 2017 was initiating the O2O corridor project, which is an effort we are leading to protect and enhance lands between the Ocala and Osceola National Forests,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “We were recently awarded more than $3.5 million in federal funding to help accomplish our partnership goals. We are excited to work alongside our partners in protecting the corridor, which is important for wildlife and natural resources, as well as our working forest lands.”
NFLT and its partners will be focusing their attention on approximately 100,000 acres within the O2O corridor. They will work with their partners to protect land through mechanisms like conservation easements, as well as improved management practices on private lands. In 2017, NFLT was able to acquire more than 900 acres of land within the O2O corridor. The O2O corridor provides important habitat for the Florida black bear and protected species like the red-cockaded woodpecker, indigo snake and gopher tortoise.
McCarthy said another accomplishment in 2017 was the acquisition of Bogey Creek Preserve, which NFLT had been working to acquire for more than ten years. The land conservation organization raised more than $1.3 million to protect and preserve the 63-acre property and will make improvements to the land to create a public park, the first in NFLT history.
Also in 2017, NFLT acquired land along the Ortega River, received a donation of property that will be added to McGirts Creek Park and received donations of three other properties in Duval County that will be sold to raise money for NFLT’s mission. They also acquired hundreds of acres of land in Clay County, encompassing threatened sandhill habitat in the O2O corridor in Keystone Heights, as well as land along Black Creek that had been identified in NFLT’s Preservation Portfolio, which targets land in critical need of preservation.
NFLT’s stewardship team has been dedicated to the outreach and cultivation of landowners located in Preservation Priority Areas in the Preservation Portfolio. The team began coordinating efforts to restore a sandhill ecosystem in Keystone Heights and monitored important diamondback terrapin nesting on Big Talbot Island with the help of Team Terrapin volunteers who contributed 400 volunteer hours during the season.
NFLT added to its staff last year with the addition of a development director and conservation coordinator. Dana Doody, in her first year as development director, was able to raise more than $800,000 for NFLT’s mission. Conservation Coordinator Dr. Susan Carr is leading the efforts in the O2O corridor and wrote the successful application for the $3,560,000 in funding from the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Resources Conservation Service.
NFLT’s outreach team has also been successful in raising awareness of the importance of preservation. They hosted numerous kayak paddles and hikes on properties they protect and in areas they are hoping to preserve. They also added a quarterly seminar series in which they partner with other environmental groups around the region to increase awareness to the variety of plant and animal species throughout the region that are impacted by conservation.
All of the accomplishments of 2017 will be highlighted at the upcoming Annual Meeting, which will be held Feb. 13 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. at Friday Musicale at 645 Oak Street in Jacksonville. The keynote speaker for the event will be former Senator and Governor Bob Graham. Tickets to the event are available at northfloridalandtrust.org.
About North Florida Land Trust
North Florida Land Trust is a non-profit organization who serves as a champion of environmental protection primarily in Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Union and Volusia counties. NFLT was founded in 1999 and has protected thousands of acres of environmentally significant land including property at Big Talbot Island, the River Branch Preserve, Pumpkin Hill, Moccasin Slough, along the St. Mary’s River and other valued natural areas predominantly in Northeast Florida. NFLT is funded largely by private and corporate contributions and works closely with private landowners and other public agencies at all levels of government, not-for-profit partners, and foundations. For more information, visit www.northfloridalandtrust.org.