650 acres of conservation land approved for acquisition by ARC
Acquisition of Bond Ranch parcel will enhance current restoration plans
TALLAHASSEE – Today the Acquisition and Restoration Council (ARC) voted to amend the existing boundary line of the Charlotte Harbor Flatwoods Florida Forever Project to include Bond Ranch, a 650-acre parcel. This step enables the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of State Lands to move forward with the acquisition of the parcel. Acquisition of conservation land is generally limited to Florida Forever project boundaries.
DEP’s Division of State Lands worked with the South Florida Water Management District and the Trust for Public Land to fast-track the boundary amendment to place it on today’s ARC agenda. The division will partner with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), which has committed $1.5 million for acquisition of the parcel.
“Adding the Bond Ranch parcel to the Charlotte Harbor Flatwoods project will augment the current restoration efforts for Charlotte Harbor and the Caloosahatchee River watershed,” said Kelley Boree, director of DEP’s Division of State Lands. “I appreciate our partners recognizing the importance of this acquisition happening quickly and in concert with FDOT’s I-75 widening project.”
Bond Ranch is vital in the multi-phased regional hydrologic restoration effort. The restoration initiative will not only restore the original flow of water across Charlotte County and into Charlotte Harbor, but will also reduce the flow of excess water south into Lee County and the Caloosahatchee River watershed. The reduction will result in better flood protection for North Fort Myers as well as reducing nutrient loads to the Charlotte Harbor Estuary.
This parcel is integral to the success of the Charlotte Harbor Flatwoods Initiative, a multi-agency, multi-year effort to return this watershed’s waterflow to its historic westward direction. Multiple local, state and federal agencies are participating in this initiative that covers approximately 90 square miles and five sub-watersheds. Acquisition of the parcel, which is adjacent to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area, will also result in immediate increased wildlife habitat.
ARC is a 10 member group of representatives from various agencies with land conservation experience tasked with the responsibility of evaluating conservation lands for possible state acquisition and management. Along with the addition of Bond Ranch, ARC voted to update five management plans and considered five proposals for possible addition to the December 2014 Florida Forever list.
Source: Florida DEP News Release