Land trust expands Putnam Lakes Preserve by 687 acres

By Francine Frazier - Senior web producer

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. - The Putnam Lakes Preserve is expanding thanks to another 687 acres acquired by the North Florida Land Trust.

The property is located southeast of Hawthorne and is bordered on the south by Little Orange Creek. The land is also partially within the Ocala to Osceola, or O2O wildlife corridor, which extends from the Ocala National Forest to the Osceola National Forest. The property is also their first acquisition in Putnam County.

The property is made up of a variety of natural features including ephemeral ponds, sandhill lakes and longleaf pine. The characteristics of the natural landscape makes it a recharge area for the Floridan aquifer. Protecting this property from development and intensive land use will benefit freshwater supply and may also be beneficial for several rare species including the striped newt, gopher frog and gopher tortoise, officials said.

“We identified this property in our Preservation Portfolio as an area critical for preservation because of all the ecosystem benefits it provides,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “We were able to work quickly to preserve this environmentally sensitive land and we are grateful to those that made it a reality.”

The acquisition of Putnam Lakes Preserve was made possible through funding from an anonymous donor, the River Branch Foundation, The Spurlino Foundation and a loan from The Conservation Fund. 

NFLT’s Preservation Portfolio identified the most valuable 112,346 acres of land in critical need of preservation within the organization’s seven-county focus area. The conservation values of these lands include a variety of ecosystem benefits including aquifer recharge, flood regulation, water filtration and protection of rare, threatened or endangered species and habitats. In Putnam County, the team pinpointed more than 15,000 acres for preservation which included 3,337 acres in the Putnam Lakes Preservation Priority Area. 

Putnam Lakes Preserve will serve as an anchor property within the portfolio area from which NFLT will continue to conserve property within the highly vulnerable aquifer recharge area to protect future water supply. 

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