May 22, 2024

Conservation Deals Get State Approval

Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet on Tuesday approved a series of land deals, including a $37.8 million plan to conserve nearly 12,000 acres in DeSoto and Hardee counties.

The state will pay Carlton Horse Creek Partners, LLC, for what is known as a conservation easement on 11,958 acres.

Generally, conservation easements shield land from development, while allowing continued use for such things as agriculture.

A Cabinet agenda item said the DeSoto and Hardee property, Horse Creek Ranch, has been used by the Carlton family for cattle ranching and other agricultural and recreational purposes since the mid-1800s.

“The conservation of Horse Creek Ranch will protect in perpetuity the wildlife and water that flows through the ranch, across Southwest Florida into Charlotte Harbor,” the agenda item said.

“About half of the property is in improved pastures and the remaining portion is in natural condition.”

In addition to the purchase approved Tuesday, the Southwest Florida Water Management District is acquiring 4,358 acres as part of the project, the agenda item said.

Among the other deals approved by DeSantis and the Cabinet was paying $7.75 million for a conservation easement on 3,634 acres in Okeechobee County.

In all, DeSantis and the Cabinet approved projects to conserve about 19,800 acres in various parts of the state, according to Audubon Florida.

The deals came through the Florida Forever conservation program and the state’s Rural & Family Lands Protection Program.

Tags: News Service of Florida

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