North Florida Land Trust in coordination with its partners has acquired 25 acres of land in Lake County within the Ocala to Osceola, or O2O, Wildlife Corridor. NFLT worked closely with The Nature Conservancy, Ocala National Forest, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to procure the property that has important habitat for the Florida scrub-jay which is a Federally threatened species.
“The Florida scrub-jay is threatened because of loss of habitat and it is very important that we save the sand pine scrub forests that they depend on,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “The acquisition of this property was a team effort and we appreciate our partners who helped make this possible. Preserving these natural spaces within the O2O is a major priority for us to protect threatened and endangered wildlife and plant species in Florida.”
The Nature Conservancy provided funding for the acquisition through the Florida scrub-jay mitigation fund for the procurement of additional habitat for the birds. The 25-acre property is located within the Ocala National Forest. NFLT owns the property and will partner with the Ocala National Forest to manage the land.
“The Ocala National Forest is very excited that North Florida Land Trust purchased this property, which will forevermore protect a piece of rare Florida scrub habitat,” said Carrie Sekerak, Deputy District Ranger for the Ocala National Forest. “Protection of this property in the middle of the Forest deters negative impacts from development and enables us to care for the larger surrounding landscape for wildlife and the health of the St. Johns River.”
NFLT works in partnership with the Forest Service to improve the integrity of the national forest and facilitate landscape-scale management in areas including the Ocala National Forest, Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge and the Seminole State Forest.
NFLT leads the O2O Wildlife Corridor Partnership, an effort by public and private organizations to accelerate land conservation within the O2O. The O2O is a 1.6 million-acre network of public and private lands that connect the Ocala and Osceola National Forests. NFLT and partners work to accelerate O2O land protection, to provide habitat for many species including the black bear, the red-cockaded woodpecker, indigo snakes and gopher tortoises.
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.