Society News

Little Rain Lake Preserve and Bogey Creek Preserve

October 05, 2017

Florida Conservation Groups are acquiring more land!  The march toward more conservation land and corridors to connect it continues.  Susan Carr, PhD, our FNPS president elect acts as the Conservation Coordinator for the North Florida Land Trust, and she is proud of this new conservation acquisition.

The text below is from the news announcements for the acquisition of Little Rain Preserve and Bogey Creek Preserve by the North Florida Land Trust.

Little Rain Preserve

Jacksonville, Fla., Sept. 29, 2017 – North Florida Land Trust acquired 415 acres of land today in Clay County, which is home to an endangered sandhill forest with a longleaf pine ecosystem. Little Rain Lake Preserve is in Keystone Heights near Little Rain Lake Park and close to Camp Blanding. The land was acquired through funding from with the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program. The REPI program identified the land as a prime candidate for conservation and important for the protection of military lands from the threat of encroaching development.

“Preserving this land is important not only to act as a buffer for Camp Blanding but also to restore and preserve one of Florida’s most endangered ecosystems,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “Longleaf pine forests were once a widespread ecosystem throughout the state but has experienced a 98 percent decline. We plan to restore the property by reintroducing prescribed burns to promote the growth of the longleaf pines, which protect the habitats of many threatened and endangered species.”

Little Rain Lake Preserve is a sandhill community, which is a longleaf pine ecosystem characterized by gently rolling terrain that provides important habitat for many Florida species including the gopher tortoise, indigo snake, Sherman’s fox squirrel and the Florida Black Bear. It is within 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. NFLT has organized a new partnership to combine the efforts of state and federal agencies with nonprofits’ efforts to preserve and restore this important wildlife corridor.

The REPI program is designed to secure buffers around military installation to protect the military mission. Preserving the land around Camp Blanding will allow Florida National Guard soldiers to train to the fence line without fear of affecting the quality of life for neighbors.

“The National Guard is always happy to find partnerships that help meet multiple benefits for the public,” said Paul Catlett, installation and environmental program manager for Camp Blanding. “If we can reduce conflicts between military training and people’s homes while also preserving important natural landscapes then that’s a win-win.”

Bogey Creak Preserve

Jacksonville, Fla., Oct. 5, 2017 – North Florida Land Trust is now the proud owner of the Bogey Creek Preserve. The land conservation organization closed on the property today and will now begin work to make improvements to the land to create a public park. Many generous donors helped NFLT reach the $1.2 million needed to purchase the 63-acre property and reach the $105,000 needed to fund the ancillary costs. 

 

“This project has been a long time coming for us and we are glad the papers are now signed and we have taken ownership of this wonderful piece of land,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “We have a number of people to thank for this including the Delores Barr Weaver Fund, the River Branch Foundation, two anonymous donors and a number of individuals and families who stepped forward to make this acquisition a reality.”

 

NFLT started the process to raise the funds to acquire the land back in 2006 after they purchased about seven acres from the Spencer family. The original seven acres was adjacent to this property and was also owned by the Spencer family. Sue Spencer, the family’s matriarch, wanted her family property to be preserved forever. Spencer passed away earlier this year and McCarthy said he is very pleased they could fulfill her wishes.

 

Former Mayor John Delaney toured the property back in the spring of 1999 after he launched the city’s Preservation Project, which was created to acquire land for public parks and preservation. Delaney met with the Spencer family and saw firsthand all that the land had to offer. 

 

“I long sought to preserve this particular and unique piece of Jacksonville,” said Delaney. “I am delighted that you (NFLT) have pulled it off and thankful to the family who owned the land.”

 

The Bogey Creek Preserve will protect nearly one mile of critical marsh front on Clapboard and Bogey Creeks. It neighbors Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park and the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. The property is a matrix of maritime hammock forest, seep-fed cypress swamps and mixed pine-oak forest. 

 

McCarthy said the improvements to create the public park are expected to take approximately a year. Once completed, Bogey Creek Preserve will have public walking trails, a picnic area, a kayak launch and will include signs throughout the property to explain all the ecosystems and unique parts of the property. There will also be parking for the preserve on Cedar Point Rd.

 

The money to obtain Bogey Creek Preserve came from various supporters; one anonymous donor contributed $210,000 to the project and another gave $405,000 in the name of Robert P. Milam, Jr. The River Branch Foundation gave $500,000 towards the preserve and the Delores Barr Weaver Fund at the Community Foundation of Northeast Florida provided $125,000 through a challenge grant. The remainder of the funds were collected from individuals and families, including the Chartrand family.

About North Florida Land Trust

North Florida Land Trust is a non-profit organization who serves as a champion of environmental protection primarily in Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam, and St. Johns counties. NFLT was founded in 1999 and has protected thousands of acres of environmentally significant land including property at Big Talbot Island, the River Branch Preserve, Pumpkin Hill State Park, Moccasin Slough, along the St. Mary’s River and other valued natural areas predominantly in Northeast Florida. NFLT is funded largely by private and corporate contributions and works closely with private landowners and other public agencies at all levels of government, not-for-profit partners, and foundations.  For more information, visit www.northfloridalandtrust.org.

For more information:  Contact: Kelly White, (904) 232-3001 or (904) 616-8754, kelly.white@cfmedia.net