North Florida Land Trust has helped to preserve approximately 157 acres in Putnam County located in the Ocala to Osceola, or O2O, wildlife corridor.
The nonprofit land conservation organization acquired the property for $472,600 from the Weyerhaeuser Corporation, a private timberland company.
The funding for the property was provided by the Florida Defense Task Force through the Clay County Development Authority and the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program.
NFLT negotiated with Weyerhaeuser and completed the due diligence necessary to finalize the acquisition.
The property is located adjacent to Etoniah Creek State Forest and within the priority area for conservation for Camp Blanding and the Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program designed to secure buffers around military installations.
“This acquisition accomplishes many things. It provides a critical linkage between the Etoniah Creek State Forest and Camp Blanding, provides for wildlife migration, and protects Camp Blanding from encroachment,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “Weyerhaeuser was a wonderful partner through this process, and we appreciate their cooperation and willingness to sell the land.”
The 157-acre property buffers the Camp Blanding installation, enhances the state’s ability to manage the Etoniah Creek State Forest, and provides a critical linkage for wildlife habitat and fire management. It contains wetlands associated with Etoniah Creek tributaries.
The property sits within the O2O wildlife corridor, which provides important habitat for the Florida Black Bear and numerous endangered species, including the red-cockaded woodpecker, indigo snake, and gopher tortoise.
NFLT has been leading a partnership of public and private partners who are committed to preserving this critical wildlife corridor to allow wildlife to migrate and maintain populations as they are pushed out of developing areas.