North Florida Land Trust working to get O2O Corridor designated as a Sentinel Landscape
Jacksonville, Fla., April 25, 2017 – North Florida Land Trust has partnered with 12 organizations, including federal and state agencies and other non-profits, to work towards a goal of having the Ocala to Osceola, or O2O wildlife corridor, federally designated as a Sentinel Landscape. A Sentinel Landscape is a working or natural land that is important to the nation’s defense mission. The O2O corridor stretches from the Ocala National Forest to the Osceola National Forest with Camp Blanding forming the central link in the corridor.
The Sentinel Landscapes Partnership was established by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense and Interior to promote natural resource sustainability and the preservation of agricultural and conservation lands around military installations. Many military installations have had to shut down or significantly decrease training because of conflicts with development around the installation. Preserving farms, working forests and natural areas near military installations, can also preserve the military’s mission.
“There are numerous benefits to having this land designated through the Sentinel Landscape Partnership for Camp Blanding, the community and the environment,” said Jim McCarthy, president of North Florida Land Trust. “It will create a protection for military missions, as well as the habitat and wildlife that moves through the corridor. For farmers and ranchers, the partnership will give their lands an extra layer of protection from development.”
Becoming a Sentinel Landscape Partner will combine the federal, local and private efforts to protect the land through mutually beneficial programs and strategies. The partnership will preserve and protect habitat and working lands near military installations and will help to prevent, reduce or eliminate restrictions caused by incompatible development that can inhibit military testing and training.
The O2O corridor is a nationally critical wildlife corridor that stretches from the Ocala National Forest to the Osceola National Forest and eventually to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. Black bears move through the corridor, which also provides habitat connectivity for endangered species like the red-cockaded woodpecker, indigo snakes and gopher tortoises. In total, 34 federally threatened and endangered species, and three disappearing habitat types are expected to benefit from the efforts.
NFLT recently assisted in a video project with students from the North American Nature Photography Association’s College Program (NANPA), which focuses on the need for conservation of the O2O corridor. The video produced by the students can be seen at https://vimeo.com/207243255.
North Florida Land Trust’s 6th Annual Fish Fry
Jacksonville, Fla., April 24, 2017 – North Florida Land Trust is hosting their 6th Annual Fish Fry at Big Talbot Island on Saturday, May 20. The family-friendly event will take place from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. at Talbot House on Big Talbot Island, 12134 Houston Avenue, Jacksonville, FL 32226. Guests can enjoy live music, marsh views, fabulous food, local beers, lawn games and more.
“This fundraising event is so much fun for all ages,” said Jim McCarthy, Executive Director of North Florida Land Trust. “It is a great opportunity for everyone to spend some time out at Big Talbot Island, partake in a nature hike and learn more about why Big Talbot Island is such a special place. It is a great example of why we at North Florida Land Trust do what we do.”
A Florida Master Naturalist will be there to take people on a free guided nature hike. The hike is 1.5 miles and hikers will learn about all the natural plants and wildlife that can be seen on Big Talbot Island. The hikes will leave at 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Space is limited and guests can sign up for the preferred time when purchasing tickets.
Guests are encouraged to BYOC or bring your own chair, sit on the lawn and enjoy live music from some local favorites. Junco Royals will be playing traditional old time jazz and LPT will perform their Afro-Cuban beats. Bold City Brewery will bring the beer and Beer 30: San Marco is providing cider. Safe Harbor and Indulge Food Truck will be serving up the food for the fish fry. Vegan and gluten free options will also be available.
An anonymous donor is the title sponsor of the event. Additional sponsors include JAXPORT, Sumo Design Studio, Onsite Environmental Consulting, National Parks Conservation Association, Beer:30, Bold City Brewery and Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP.
Tickets are $30 in advance or $40 at the door and include entry and your meal. Kids under 12 are $10 in advance or $20 at the door and students with ID are $15 in advance and $25 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at www.northfloridalandtrust.org/events/fishfry/. For more information, contact email@example.com or call (904) 479-1962. Tickets are rain or shine. No refunds.
Senator Bradley Hurting Farmers/Ranchers
Jacksonville, Fla., April 13, 2017 – Senator Rob Bradley is an extremely popular political figure. His introduction, support and leadership of a bill in the Senate (SB 10) to help South Florida, and his refusal to support funding for protecting working lands, hurts six ranching and farming families in his own district. The Canaan Ranch, Cannon Family Farm, Land Family, Lyme Lafayette, Rainey Pasture and South Prong properties are all listed as Tier 1 candidates for protection under the Rural and Family Lands Program. That program allows the landowners to continue to work their land while giving up their development rights to their property. Neither Senator Bradley’s bill or his budget request provides any money to that program.
“Not only does this hurt existing farmers and ranchers, in the long run it will hurt young farmers seeking to get into the family business because of the cost of working lands,” said Jim McCarthy, president of the North Florida Land Trust (NFLT).
Senator Travis Hutson voted for Senator Bradley’s bill in committee and yesterday, he voted for it on the floor. In his district, Perry Smith Family, Tilton Family Farm and Wesley Smith Family Farm are similarly adversely affected.
“We just cannot believe that both these Senators not only ignored the interests of hardworking family farmers and ranchers in their own districts, they ignored the will of 75% of the voters in the State of Florida who voted in favor of Amendment 1 in 2014,” said McCarthy.
Amendment 1, also known as The Florida Water and Land Acquisition Amendment, mandated funding for land conservation programs like Florida Forever, Florida Communities Trust and the Rural and Family Lands Program. However, the Senate bill requests just $10 million for Florida Forever and $5 million for the Florida Communities Trust. The House bill calls for just $10 million for the Florida Communities Trust and nothing for the other two programs.
Representative Cyndi Stevenson voted in the house committee to eliminate funding for land conservation including the Florida Forever and the Rural & Family Land Programs.
“How can they do this? We understand that Senator Latvala and Speaker Corcoran both have an interest in running for Governor. So does Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose agency administers the Rural and Family Lands Program. Commissioner Putnam requested $50 million for the Program, but Senator Latvala and Speaker Corcoran have refused to fund even one dollar. Two of these elected officials are playing politics and positioning themselves for higher office at the expense of hardworking farmers and ranchers and in complete defiance of the will of millions of Floridians,” said McCarthy.
Senator Bradley has also amended his own bill to fund projects along the St Johns River and reduced the amount from $45 million to $20 million. Meanwhile, Senator Bradley proposed nearly $300 million for Everglades projects in his budget request.
“When will someone standup and do not only what is right, what the people voted for in 2014 and what is needed to protect the economy and environment in northeast Florida?” asked McCarthy.
North Florida Land Trust is applying for accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission
Public comment period is now open
Jacksonville, Fla., March 6, 2017 – North Florida Land Trust is pleased to announce it is applying for accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance. A public comment period is now open and the commission is asking anyone who wishes to send in their comments to please do so by May 26, 2017.
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission conducts an extensive review of each applicant’s policies and programs. The commission invites public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications. Comments must relate to how North Florida Land Trust complies with national quality standards. These standards address the ethical and technical operation of a land trust. For the full list of standards see http://www.landtrustaccreditation.org/help-and-resources/indicator-practices.
The land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. The main objectives of the accreditation program are to build and recognize strong land trusts, to foster public confidence in land conservation and to help ensure the long-term protection of land.
To learn more about the accreditation program and to submit a comment, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org, or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments may also be faxed or mailed to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments: (fax) 518-587-3183; (mail) 36 Phila Street, Suite 2, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.
North Florida Land Trust urges legislators to do the right thing and properly fund land conservation
Jacksonville, Fla., March 2, 2017 – North Florida Land Trust is urging Florida lawmakers to do the right thing and properly fund land conservation. In 2014, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved The Florida Water and Land Acquisition Amendment to provide increased funding for acquiring and improving Florida’s conservation and recreation lands. However, lawmakers have failed to restore the meaningful funding to programs like Florida Forever and Florida Communities Trust.
NFLT and the Florida Conservation Coalition are calling on the legislature to dedicate a minimum of 25 percent of the Land Acquisition Trust Fund each year to Florida Forever and Florida Communities Trust. From those funds, NFLT calls for $50 million per year to be allocated for the Florida Communities Trust program, which local cities and counties use to fund the acquisition of land for public parks. Among many other projects, FCT money has been used to acquire Dutton Island Park and Preserve in Duval County, Moccasin Slough in Clay County, Egan’s Creek Greenway in Nassau County, Palm Coast Greenway in Flagler County, Fort Mose in St. Johns County and St. Mary Shoals in Baker County.
Currently, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is asking for just $50 million to acquire conservation easements through the Rural and Family Land Protection Program. Governor Rick Scott is requesting $15.2 million for the Florida Forever program.
“What Commissioner Putnam and Governor Scott are requesting is nowhere near what Florida voters were expecting when we overwhelming passed legislation in 2014,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “We believe the legislature needs to adhere to the voters’ wishes and we urge voters to contact their lawmakers and ask them, at the very least, to dedicate 25 percent of the LATF to preserving our state’s lands.”
NFLT and the Coalition agree that the funds must be used for land acquisition and conservation easement projects that are on the approved Acquisitions and Restoration Council’s priority list and for Florida Communities Trust. The legislature should also increase funding of the LATF for conservation easements through the Rural and Family Lands program, which allow ranchers and farmers to continue using the land while protecting it from development.
“This is a great vehicle for the current and older farmers to make it easier for young farmers to get into farming,” said McCarthy. “It is a win for everyone including the environment. It keeps the land free from development and the pollutants that come along with it. It helps protect our clean drinking water and the natural lands that our wildlife depends on.”
Florida Forever used to be the state’s largest land-buying program at $300 million a year, until lawmakers cut off funding in 2009. The water and land conservation measure approved by voters in 2014 was supposed to restore funding. However, in recent years it has received, at most, 5 percent of its traditional funding.
Historic year for North Florida Land Trust
From 1999 to 2015, the North Florida Land Trust protected more than 6,000 acres of land.
In 2016, it added more than 12,000 acres for conservation.
It is the most land the organization has preserved in one year since it was established 17 years ago. The milestone was attained with conservation easements, acquisitions of land and donations of both.
One of the main projects in 2016 was to identify lands throughout the trust’s seven-county area in critical need of preservation. The new Preservation Portfolio comprises 112,346 acres that should be preserved.
About 214 acres in the portfolio have been acquired and the agency will continue its mission through 2017 to acquire the remaining acreage.
Another highlight of the year was the acquisition of the Spanish American War Fort in Arlington.
With help from the city, the Delores Barr Weaver Fund and numerous donors, the land trust purchased the site and saved the 1898 fort from destruction.
When restoration is complete, the property will be turned over to the National Park Service and added to the Fort Caroline National Memorial as a public access park.
The trust also assisted the National Park Service in acquiring the Billy Tract, which is an 8 acre parcel that will allow for a trail between Fort Caroline, Spanish Pond, the Ribault Monument and the fort.
North Florida Land Trust had a historic year by tripling the land conserved in 2016
Jacksonville, Fla., Jan. 10, 2017 – North Florida Land Trust is proud to announce they tripled the amount of conservation lands in 2016. From 1999 to 2015, the organization protected just over 6,000 acres of land. In 2016, they added more than 12,000 acres to the amount of land held for conservation purposes. It is the most land NFLT has been able to preserve in one year since they started their mission. NFLT’s historic year was attained with conservation easements, acquisitions of land and donations of both.
“We are elated with what we have been able to accomplish this year and grateful to all our partners and donors who made it possible,” said Jim McCarthy, Executive Director of NFLT. “I credit our staff for our historic success. Their hard work allowed us to triple the acres of land now preserved in our area. They have been incredibly diligent and focused on our mission. We still have a way to go to preserve all of the land that we have identified as critical for preservation and I look forward to another historic year.”
One of the main projects for NFLT was to identify lands throughout their seven-county focus area in critical need of preservation. The document they created is called the Preservation Portfolio and it identifies 112,346 acres of land they would like to preserve. They put a price on the cost of acquiring the land and compared it to the ecosystem benefits that the land would provide for free if left undisturbed. They found the ecosystem benefits from the land, like clean air and water, was worth double the cost of acquisition. NFLT has been able to acquire about 214 acres of land in the portfolio and will continue their mission through 2017 to acquire the remaining acreage.
Another highlight of the year was the acquisition of the Spanish American War Fort. With the help of the City of Jacksonville, the Delores Barr Weaver fund and numerous donors, NFLT saved the 1898 fort from destruction. The fort is an important piece of Jacksonville’s history and once restoration is complete, it will be turned over to the National Park Service and added to the Fort Caroline National Memorial as a public access park. NFLT also assisted the National Park Service in acquiring the Billy Tract, which is an eight-acre parcel that will allow for a trail between Fort Caroline, Spanish Pond, Ribault Monument and the Spanish American War Fort.
NFLT worked with multiple landowners to help them through the process of selling conservation easements to the State of Florida. McCarthy addressed the Governor and his Cabinet in support of more than 5,200 acres of land owned by the Meldrim family. He helped to persuade the state to approve the nearly $6 million purchase of the conservation easement, which protects Watson Island State Forest, allows the Meldrim family to continue to harvest timber, contributes to the economy by providing jobs and protects the land from any future development.
NFLT worked directly with landowners in Baker and Putnam County to conserve a combined 6,115 acres of land through the state’s Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. NFLT assisted the families through the process of selling the conservation easements to preserve the natural land forever. The South Prong Plantation in Baker County, owned by Doug and Teresa Moore, is 2,410 acres of pine plantation and natural swamp and forest lands. The Wetland Preserve in Putnam County is 3,705 acres of working pine forest and wetland tract owned by Ben and Louann Williams.
“We are also proud of our work with developers in 2016 and are thrilled to see them respond to our Preservation Portfolio and join with us to protect the natural areas in North Florida,” said McCarthy. “In December, we completed three acquisitions from developers in both St. Johns and Duval County. The first was the Fletcher Davis Management Group who contacted us after learning we were looking to conserve land they owned in St. Johns County. We also heard from Charles Chupp, who donated land on Big Talbot Island, and from Gary and Laine Silverfield and Christie Atkerson, who donated land along the Guana River that we had targeted for preservation.”
NFLT also received land from Charles and Mary Farr and the Cummer family. The Farr conservation easement is 44 acres on Horse Creek Farm in St. Johns County and the Cummer donation is 137 acres composed of several tracts along the Withlacoochee River in Sumter and Citrus County.
In 2016, NFLT worked closely with the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program to identify and preserve land near Camp Blanding. The acquisition was funded in part by a grant from the National Guard Bureau as part of the REPI program and with help from the Clay County Development Authority, who secured a grant from the Florida Defense Support Task Force.
“We are going to keep up the momentum in 2017 and our plan is to double our 2016 success,” said McCarthy. “The beauty of the land that we preserve and the large amount of wildlife and plant species that depend on these habitats is why we do what we do. We encourage everyone to get out and enjoy the natural lands, observe the wildlife and just spend some time in the great outdoors.”
Developers donate property to land trust
Jacksonville, Fla., January 4, 2017- North Florida Land Trust has added 7.72 acres to its portfolio thanks to a donation from Gary and Laine Silverfield and Christie Atkerson, longtime partners in the real estate development business.
The donated parcel is known as The Grove and is located on the southwest corner of Mickler’s Landing and Florida A1A along the Guana River.
The land was among 112,346 acres in the trust’s seven-county focus area that are deemed in critical need of preservation.
The parcel is between the McGarvey-Goelz Preserve, which the nonprofit has owned since 2004, and Guana Tolomato Matanzas Research Reserve.
The area is marsh habitat for wildlife including roseate spoonbills, tricolored herons, great egrets, snowy egrets, white ibis, clapper rails and others.
In early December, the organization received a donation of land on Big Talbot Island from Charles Chupp, a local real estate investor and developer.
The trust also bought property in St. Johns County from Fletcher Davis Management Group when the developer offered the land for sale after hearing it was in the preservation portfolio.
North Florida Land Trust has received a gift of land along the Guana River
Jacksonville, Fla., Dec. 27, 2016 – North Florida Land Trust has added 7.72 acres of land to its portfolio thanks to a generous donation from Gary and Laine Silverfield and Christie Atkerson. The families are long-time partners in the real estate development business. The parcel they donated is known as The Grove and is located on the Southwest corner of Mickler’s Landing and A1A along the Guana River.
“This is the third acquisition in a month and we have two more in the works that involve developers,” said Jim McCarthy, Executive Director of NFLT. “We are thrilled to see the development community responding to our Preservation Portfolio and working with us to protect the natural areas in north Florida.”
The land was among the 112,346 acres in NFLT’s seven-county focus area that they deemed in critical need of preservation. It is situated between the McGarvey-Goelz Preserve, which NFLT has owned since 2004, and Guana Tolomato Matanzas Research Reserve (GTM Research Reserve). It is quality marsh habitat that is rich with wildlife including roseate spoonbills, tricolored herons, great egrets, snowy egrets, white ibis, clapper rails, and others.
NFLT has been working closely with developers recently to preserve land in desired locations. In early December, the organization received a donation of land on Big Talbot Island from Charles Chupp, a local real estate investor and developer. The land trust also purchased a piece of property in St. Johns County from Fletcher Davis Management Group after the developer offered the land for sale after hearing it was included in the Preservation Portfolio.
North Florida Land Trust Executive Director appointed to the Environmental Regulation Commission
Jacksonville, Fla., Dec. 20, 2016 – Jim McCarthy, Executive Director of North Florida Trust, has been appointed by Governor Rick Scott to serve on the Environmental Regulation Commission. Scott announced McCarthy’s appointment in a press release on Friday, Dec. 16. The Environmental Regulation Commission is a seven-member board responsible for setting standards and rules that protect Floridians and the environment.
“I am honored that the Governor chose me to serve in this position and I look forward to doing my part to look after Florida’s natural environments,” said McCarthy. “I will work closely with my fellow board members to examine the risks and benefits of all issues that come before this commission.”
McCarthy’s term started Dec. 16, 2016 and will end July 1, 2019. His appointment is still subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
The seven-member Environmental Regulation Commission is made up of individuals who represent agriculture, the development industry, local government, the environmental community, citizens and members of the scientific and technical community.
North Florida Land Trust acquires another piece of property on Big Talbot Island
Jacksonville, Fla., Dec. 5, 2016 – North Florida Land Trust has received a charitable land donation on Big Talbot Island from Charles Chupp. The donation is 6.43 acres of environmentally sensitive and pristine land on the very northern tip of the island and at the edge of Big Talbot Island State Park.
“We are very grateful for Mr. Chupp’s donation, which keeps Diane Joy Milam Dennis’ dream of protecting all of the privately-owned land on Big Talbot alive,” said Jim McCarthy, Executive Director of NFLT. “We have now protected nearly 1100 acres on Big Talbot. There are seven more land owners and ten more parcels that we are interested in acquiring and protecting on the island.”
The property near Big Talbot Island State Park is unique because of its surrounding state parks and the Nassau Inlet. Many rare forms of wildlife can be found in the area including dozens of migrating shorebirds, nesting sea turtles, and one of the rarest species of birds in the U.S., the piping plover. The piping plover species, which is found along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, is considered endangered due to habitat destruction and disturbance by people. Recent surveys by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimate the Atlantic population at fewer than 2,000 pairs.
Part of the property donated by Chupp connects to Spoonbill Pond, which hosts a high concentration of wildlife. It is common to see hundreds of wading birds and American white pelicans roosting at the pond and surrounding trees. Visitors will be able to enjoy the property and its bird-watching opportunities from the Timucuan Trail, which runs the length of the island.
Chupp, a real estate investor and developer, is the second developer that NFLT has concluded a deal with in just one week. Last Wednesday, NFLT purchased 206 acres of land in St. Johns County from Fletcher Davis Management Company. McCarthy said he hopes there are many more of these types of acquisitions in the future.
North Florida Land Trust has purchased the first piece of property targeted in their Preservation Portfolio
Jacksonville, Fla., Dec. 1, 2016 – North Florida Land Trust is pleased to announce they have purchased the first piece of property identified in their Preservation Portfolio. The land was among the 112,346 acres in their seven-county focus area that they deemed in critical need of preservation. The property was owned by Fletcher Management Company, a Jacksonville-based real estate developer. Fletcher reached out to NFLT after learning land they owned in St. Johns County was included in the organization’s targeted conservation area.
“This is a first step in reaching our goals of preserving these lands that provide valuable ecosystem services,” said Jim McCarthy, Executive Director of NFLT. “This is a great example of how we can work alongside developers to preserve land for future generations.”
The recently acquired land is two tax parcels that total 206 acres. The property has significant frontage on Sixmile Creek directly off the St. Johns River in St. Augustine and protects the forested uplands and the floodplain of the creek. The land is directly across the creek from the Outback Crab Shack Seafood Restaurant on County Road 13 North. It is a rich wetland ecosystem, which provides food and shelter for numerous birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish. The property is densely populated by countless trees that tolerate fluctuating water levels from the creek and help filter nutrients and pollutants from the water. The acquired land is a portion of the more than 5,500 acres NFLT had identified as a preservation priority along Sixmile Creek.
NFLT has identified four tracts of land in St. Johns County that are in critical need of preservation. In addition to the Sixmile Creek land, NFLT is also interested in acquiring and preserving acreage in the Julington-Durbin Creeks, Guana River and agricultural lands in Hastings.
NFLT’s Preservation Portfolio identifies the most valuable 112,346 acres of land in Northeast Florida which provide significant ecosystem services, which are defined as services provided by the natural environment that would otherwise cost money. These lands provide the water we drink and the air we breathe, provide needed fisheries, prevent flooding, provide recreational opportunities and are critical to maintaining a healthy community. Preserving the land can reduce or eliminate the need for storm water drainage or sewage treatment facilities. The estimated cost to acquire all the land in the Preservation Portfolio is $216,516,934, but the ecosystems services value is $413,430,739.
NFLT developed the Preservation Portfolio using the North Florida Conservation Priorities, an adaptable database of natural resources in their operating area that the Land Trust completed last year. They looked at over three million acres in Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam, and St. Johns Counties. These areas include an array of ecosystems; from coastal salt marshes and pine forests, to cypress swamps and everything in between.
North Florida Land Trust has acquired a conservation easement in St. Johns County
Jacksonville, Fla., Nov. 22, 2016 – A St. Johns County couple donated a conservation easement to the North Florida Land Trust on their property along Mill Creek near Lake Beluthahatchee in the northern part of the county. Charles and Mary Farr donated the easement on Horse Creek Farm of 44 acres to the conservation organization to ensure the land they own and love will never be developed. “The tax benefits were also a significant factor in considering the easement and preservation of our land,” said the Farrs.
“St. Johns County is one of the fastest growing counties in Northeast Florida, so it is wonderful that Mr. and Mrs. Farr have decided to donate an easement on Horse Creek Farm. It will keep its natural beauty forever,” said Jim McCarthy, Executive Director of NFLT. “In addition, donated easements can bring a 50% or 100% tax deduction (in the case of a working farm or ranch) to the donor with a fifteen year carry forward. A huge incentive for some.”
The Farrs purchased the land in 1994 and originally used it as a farm for their horses. They built a home on the site in 1996. The property also has a barn, workshop, riding area and a small dock used for recreational purposes. The donation of the conservation easement means the Farrs continue to own the land and will allow them to stay on the property and continue to enjoy all the land offers.
The Farrs have successfully managed the property as a stewardship forest, which means they have kept the land in a productive and healthy condition. The property contains stands of “Old Florida” longleaf pine forest provide habitat to some of North Florida’s most iconic native animals.
North Florida Land Trust has closed the deal on the Spanish American War Fort
Jacksonville, Fla., Nov. 17, 2016 – Thanks to the generous contributions of many in the community, North Florida Land Trust is now the owner of the 1898 Spanish American War Fort. The papers have been signed and an important piece of Jacksonville’s history has been saved. Once the restoration is complete and the fort is turned over to The National Park Service, it will be added to the Fort Caroline National Memorial as a public access park. The preservation will make sure the only actual fort in Duval County remains intact and it will be a critical addition to the National Park Service’s interpretive and community education outreach programming.
“We started this campaign about a year ago to buy the fort from an individual who had purchased the property at a tax deed sale and had planned to destroy the fort to build a house,” said Jim McCarthy, Executive Director of NFLT. “We are so proud to be a part of this community that banded together to help us save the fort. Many thanks go out to all our donors including the City of Jacksonville, the Delores Barr Weaver Fund and an anonymous donor who matched up to $39,000 to get us to the purchase price.”
The City of Jacksonville allocated $162,500 to save the fort and early on, the Delores Barr Weaver fund offered a $100,000 challenge grant to help NFLT reach the $400,000 needed to purchase the property.
“The Spanish-American Fort is a treasured piece of North Florida history, one that could not be duplicated if the land it sits upon were to be developed,” said Delores Barr Weaver. “So many people in our area want to protect the natural beauty we enjoy along our riverfront, and I believed that a challenge grant to encourage their generosity would pay off. I’m delighted that with the City of Jacksonville’s help, and the willingness of other donors, the Spanish-American Fort will be preserved once and for all.”
The remaining money was raised through donations from the community, including $5,000 raised by 100-year-old Genevieve DeLoach who asked for donations from her friends and the community in lieu of gifts for her 100th birthday party.
The 1898 Spanish-American War artillery battery fort was one of four forts on St. Johns Bluff that acted in defense of the river and is the only one that remains. The first, Ft. Caroline, was constructed in 1564 by French Huguenots. It was later taken by the Spanish and renamed Fort San Mateo. The exact location is not known, but it is believed changes in the river left it submerged. An English fort was constructed in 1778 and was likewise lost when man-made changes to St. Johns Bluff caused considerable erosion along the marsh. A Confederate Earthworks was built in 1862 and has been buried. It now lies underneath a residential development.
Wayne Hogan, a local attorney and contributor to the fort preservation, said, “Near Fort Caroline, and across the river from the important Civil War-era enclave of Pilot Town, the Spanish-American War Fort presents a key link in the military history of the St. Johns River as it reaches the Atlantic Ocean at Mayport. When it’s history and it’s important, it should be preserved; I’m glad this will be.”
North Florida Land Trust has acquired land for conservation near Camp Blanding
Jacksonville, Fla., Nov. 16, 2016 – North Florida Land Trust has acquired 624 acres of land in what is known as the triangle parcel near Camp Blanding. The property, located in Bradford County, is adjacent to Camp Blanding Joint Training Center in Clay County. NFLT worked closely with the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program to identify the land, which was both a prime candidate for conservation and important to protect the base from the threat of encroaching development.
The triangle parcel and Camp Blanding are both located in what is known as the “O2O” corridor, which is a nationally critical wildlife corridor that stretches from the Ocala National Forest to the Osceola National Forest and eventually to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia.
“Preserving this piece of land will not only keep development away from Camp Blanding, but will also be beneficial to several endangered species like the gopher tortoise, red-cockaded woodpecker and indigo snake,” said Jim McCarthy, Executive Director of NFLT. “Working with the Department of Defense has allowed us to preserve these 624 acres of natural habitat and all the ecosystem services that they offer, like clean air and water.”
The 624 acres that NFLT acquired is a resource rich timberland that has potential for restoration forestry. Much of the property is covered by bottomland hardwood and hardwood pine stands.
“This deal was really a win-win situation for both Camp Blanding and North Florida Land Trust,” said Paul Catlett, Installation and Environmental Program Manager for Camp Blanding. “This purchase will help to protect the military mission of Camp Blanding by allowing soldiers to train to the fence line without fear of affecting the quality of life for our neighbors.”
The property was acquired from the Missouri Department of Transportation Retirement Fund. The acquisition was funded in part by a grant from the National Guard Bureau as part of the REPI program, which was designed to secure buffers around military installations. The Clay County Development Authority also assisted by securing a grant of $390,000 from the Florida Defense Support Task Force to help make the purchase possible.
North Florida Land Trust lost a critical piece of their biological field station to Hurricane Matthew
Jacksonville, Fla., Oct. 25, 2016 – North Florida Land Trust lost a very important part of their biological field station on Big Talbot Island during Hurricane Matthew. The 300-foot dock that provided critical water access for researchers and educators was twisted and destroyed in the storm. Now NFLT must come up with upwards of $40,000 to replace the structure and they are asking for the public’s help.
“Researchers to the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve were able to use that dock in order to access the water to conduct their work,” said Jim McCarthy, Executive Director of NFLT. “The Florida Master Naturalist Program used it for educational purposes and it was the launching point for our interpretative kayak tours. It was a critical part of our field station and we are now hoping we can raise enough money to replace it.”
The dock was located at the Talbot House Biological Field Station on Houston Avenue on Big Talbot Island. In additional to the research work, the dock was the kayak launch during their annual fundraisers, like the upcoming Salt Marsh Brewgrass Festival on Nov. 19. NFLT is evaluating alternative options for a kayak launch for the festival.
If you would like to help with the rebuilding of the dock, you can donate online at http://www.northfloridalandtrust.org/matthewdamage/, send your donation for the dock to 2038 Gilmore Street, Jacksonville, FL 32204 or contact Jim McCarthy at (904) 479-1967 or at email@example.com.
In addition to the dock, Talbot House lost many trees in the storm. NFLT’s headquarters on Gilmore Street in Riverside also suffered damage. They had several large tree branches come down and a large tree in their river-friendly garden is now leaning and will have to be removed. NFLT is thankful that no one in their land trust family suffered any personal losses during the storm.
Mark your calendars for the Salt Marsh Brewgrass Festival to benefit North Florida Land Trust
Jacksonville, Fla., October 5, 2016 – North Florida Land Trust is hosting the Salt Marsh Brewgrass Festival at Big Talbot Island on Saturday, November 19. Everyone is invited to come to the Talbot House located at 12134 Houston Avenue from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. to enjoy some live music, local brews and an array of food trucks.
The benefit concert features the sounds of the Parker Urban Band, Come Back Alice, and Flat Land. The Parker Urban Band has an organic and soulful sound with spontaneous improv. Come Back Alice has been described as southern gypsy funk and Flat Land calls their sound soulful psychedelic rock.
In addition to the live music, there will be local beers, wine, and food trucks with vegetarian and gluten free food options. There will be games for kids, a guided 1.5-mile hike and guided kayak paddle for an additional fee. Guests are encouraged to bring a blanket or chairs and reusable water bottles.
Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at www.northfloridalandtrust.org/brewgrass-2016. Children 12-years-old and under are free.
NFLT is currently looking for sponsors at a number of levels; the $10,000 title sponsor, $5,000 band sponsors, $1,500 beer and wine sponsors, the $500 photo booth sponsor or the $250 supporting sponsor. To become a sponsor or learn more, contact Genevieve Fletcher at (904) 479-1962 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Florida Land Trust sets closing date for the Spanish American War Fort
Jacksonville, Fla., October 4, 2016 – North Florida Land Trust has set a date to close the deal on the purchase of the 1898 Spanish American War Fort. On Nov. 3, they plan to sign the paperwork to take over the title to the property. While NFLT still needs to raise about $21,000 to complete the purchase, they are close enough to schedule the closing. This is possible, in large part, to a match from an anonymous donor who has offered to match donations up to $39,000 in order to raise the final money needed to complete the purchase.
“With the support of the City of Jacksonville, the Delores Barr Weaver Fund and the anonymous donor, we have saved a piece of Jacksonville history,” said Jim McCarthy, Executive Director of NFLT. “Mrs. Weaver got us started. Councilman Hazouri was instrumental in leading the City’s effort. And the anonymous donor has made it possible for us to set a closing date.”
Over the next month, NFLT will continue to reach out to donors for the final $21,000 needed to reach the $400,000 purchase price. NFLT is confident they will be able to raise the final funds.
“We are very grateful for the support of our larger donors and to all those who gave to save the fort, including the 10, 50 and 100 dollar donors,” McCarthy said. “It is just wonderful that our children and future generations will be able to see and touch a part of our history more than 118 years old.”
Donations to finish the fort fundraising can be made online at www.northfloridalandtrust.org, or by check marked for the “Fort” to North Florida Land Trust, 2038 Gilmore Street Jacksonville FL 32204.
NFLT has served as the acquisition and fundraising partner of the National Park Service and plan to hand the fort to them. The National Park Service will add it to the Fort Caroline National Memorial as a public access park. The preservation will make sure the only actual fort in Duval County remains intact. The property will be a critical addition to the National Park Service’s interpretive and community education outreach programming.
The 1898 Spanish-American War artillery battery fort was one of four forts on St. Johns Bluff that acted in defense of the river and is the only one that still remains. The first, Ft. Caroline, was constructed in 1564 by French Huguenots. It was later taken by the Spanish and renamed Fort San Mateo. The exact location is not known, but it is believed changes in the river left it submerged. An English fort was constructed in 1778 and was likewise lost when man-made changes to St. Johns Bluff caused considerable erosion along the marsh. A Confederate Earthworks was built in 1862 and has been buried. It now lies underneath a residential development.
North Florida Land Trust receives land donation from the Cummer family
Jacksonville, Fla., June 23, 2016 – North Florida Land Trust has received a donation of 137 acres of highly valuable conservation land from the Cummer family. The property is legacy land held by the Cummer family for several generations and will now be known as the Cummer Family Land Trust Preserve. It was part of the family’s original purchases when they moved the focus of their timber operations from Michigan to Florida at the end of the 19th century. Wellington Cummer, who died away in 2005, described the property as the “most beautiful property the family owned.”
The donated land is composed of several tracts along the Withlacoochee River in both Sumter and Citrus County. The acquisition preserved several miles of river frontage between the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge and the Flying Eagle Ranch Wildlife Refuge.
“This land has a lot of old growth cypress swamp with many of the cypress trees larger than three or four feet in diameter,” said Marc Hudson, Land Protection Director at NFLT. “There are some big old cypress five and six feet wide, and a few monsters greater than six feet in diameter.”
When surveying the property for the first time, one large tree made Hudson stop in his tracks. “I’ve been pushing around cypress swamps in the Southeastern U.S. for 10 years and I have never seen an unrecorded cypress tree this big before,” said Hudson. “The big tree’s dimensions are eight to 10 feet wide and it casts a canopy big enough to rival the largest live oaks.”
Aside from the old growth forest, the tracts protect several large bays on the Withlacoochee River known as Lake Annie, Lake Nelson and Bonnet Lake, and part of the Gum Slough Spring Run. The Withlacoochee has been designated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as an Outstanding Florida Water for its water quality and wild nature. The parcels will also help maintain the wild experience of the boaters, canoers and kayakers on the Withlacoochee State Paddling Trail.
“This is an example of how North Florida Land Trust can help a land owner preserve the property they love for future generations to enjoy,” said NFLT Executive Director Jim McCarthy. “While this property is outside of our seven county focus area, Cheryl Cummer has been a longtime supporter of the North Florida Land Trust and we were glad to assist her and the family with this project.”
North Florida Land Trust commemorates Earth Day
Jacksonville, Fla., April 22, 2016 – North Florida Land Trust, a champion of land conservation, is commemorating Earth Day with a new strategy they are calling ecosystem services. The point of their effort is to convince businesses and governments of the value of investing in conservation. The organization is currently working on a document called the Preservation Portfolio, which will put a dollar amount on land conservation and highlight the return on investment.
For each of their Preservation Priority Areas, NFLT studied the potential ecosystem service benefits of preservation and calculated their values. Those benefits fall under a number of categories including: removal of air pollutants and greenhouse gases; protection from storms, floods and droughts; building organic soils for farming and forestry; removing nutrients and contaminants from our waterways; maintaining native habitats and wildlife we enjoy, and the production of food and fiber, to name a few. As a tribute to Earth Day, NFLT is releasing a glimpse at one of the areas they are highlighting and targeting for conservation. The full document will be released next month.
“Return on Investment (ROI), in this document, refers to the length of time each Preservation Priority Area would take to pay back its acquisition cost in terms of ecosystem services,” said Jim McCarthy, Executive Director of NFLT. “For example, the Long Branch Preservation Priority Area has an estimated acquisition cost of $14.9 million, but an annual ecosystem service value of $33 million, and therefore this property has a ROI of 5.5 months.”
McCarthy went on to say that because the Preservation Portfolio focuses on the most highly valued ecosystems in our area, most are extremely productive in terms of ecosystem services, with the longest ROI being 5 years (Guana River). For businesses, he said the benefit of investing and working with organizations like NFLT could arise if a business decided to expand and was required to mitigate for any environmental damage their expansion could cause. An additional benefit to business is the good will portrayed by such an investment.
“Our ecosystem services will actually determine what the return on investment is in terms of environmental impact like clean air and water, and reduced pollution,” said McCarthy. “A wetland will filter out pollutants like nitrogen at a high rate. If you don’t preserve that wetland, the city could be required to build a waste treatment plant. What great public relations for a company to significantly improve the water quality of the St. Johns River or our drinking water, and save the taxpayers money,” McCarthy said.
North Florida Land Trust to receive challenge grant from Delores Barr Weaver Fund to save the Spanish American War Fort
Jacksonville, Fla., March 8, 2016 – North Florida Land Trust is pleased to announce they have received a challenge grant of up to $100,000 from the Delores Barr Weaver Fund to preserve the 1898 Spanish American War Fort. The money will go toward the $400,000 needed to purchase the property from its current owner – an individual who has plans to build a house on the site. NFLT still needs to raise an additional $300,000 to buy the property then the Delores Barr Weaver Fund will provide up to $100,000 needed to complete the purchase.
“I am so pleased to help North Florida Land Trust purchase the Spanish American War Fort property next to Fort Caroline,” noted Delores Barr Weaver. “With a tradition of protecting our unique North Florida natural environment, the North Florida Land Trust now has an added opportunity to safeguard an important part of our history, and I encourage everyone to join me in making sure this local treasure becomes part of our National Park system.”
NFLT currently has a purchase agreement with the owner, an individual who bought the property at a tax auction and has plans to tear down the fort and build a house on the site. “Some folks think the fort is already protected by virtue of its age. Others believe it should have been done some time ago. We understand both arguments, but we are where we are. This is an important piece of Jacksonville’s and even the nation’s history. This may be the only fort built in the U.S. expressly for the Spanish American War,” said Jim McCarthy, executive director of the North Florida Land Trust. If NFLT cannot raise the money needed, McCarthy said the property will remain with the current owner and most likely, the fort will be destroyed.
Those interested in donating to preserve the Spanish American War Fort should send their donation marked for the “Fort” to NFLT, 2038 Gilmore Street Jacksonville FL 32204 or donate online at www.northfloridalandtrust.org. For further information, contact Jim McCarthy at email@example.com or call (904) 479-1967.
The 1898 Spanish American War Fort was one of four forts on St. Johns Bluff that acted in defense of the river and is the only one that still remains. NFLT is the acquisition and fundraising partner of the National Park Service on this project. Once NFLT purchases the property, they will hand it over to the National Park Service who will add it to the Fort Caroline National Memorial as a public access park. The preservation will make sure the only actual fort in Duval County remains intact. The property will be a critical addition to the National Park Service’s interpretive and community education outreach programming.
St. Johns Bluff has supported four forts acting in defense of the St. Johns River and the Spanish American War Fort is the only fort that remains. The first, Ft. Caroline, was constructed in 1564 by French Huguenots. It was later taken by the Spanish and renamed Fort San Mateo. The exact location is not known, but it is believed changes in the river left it submerged. An English fort was constructed in 1778 and was likewise lost when man-made changes to St. Johns Bluff caused considerable erosion along the marsh. A Confederate Earthworks was built in 1862 and has been buried and now lies underneath a residential development.
About the Delores Barr Weaver Fund
Delores Barr Weaver established this Fund at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida in 2012 to provide grants to nonprofit organizations that do work she has supported over many years and to encourage others to do so as well. Mrs. Weaver has an extraordinary legacy of philanthropy, and she has provided transformative support to dozens of nonprofit organizations that uplift, enlighten and advance our community. Her establishment of the Delores Barr Weaver Fund ($50 million) in 2012 was the largest gift in The Community Foundation’s history.
About The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida
The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida (www.jaxcf.org), Florida’s oldest and largest community foundation, works to stimulate philanthropy to build a better community. The Foundation helps donors invest their philanthropic gifts wisely, helps nonprofits serve the region effectively, and helps people come together to make the community a better place. Now in its 52nd year, the Foundation has assets of $313 million and has made grants of nearly $367 million since 1964.