Governor and Cabinet Approve 1,100-Acre Florida Forever Acquisition

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Governor and Cabinet Approve 1,100-Acre
Florida Forever Acquisition

~$2.6 million acquisition will help protect water and natural resources in Osceola County~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet members approved the acquisition of a conservation easement of more than 1,100 acres for $2.6 million. The subject property is part of an approximately 4,613-acre ranch, known as Camp Lonesome. The ranch is located in central Osceola County, northeast of the Florida Turnpike and about 15 miles from St. Cloud.

“DEP is committed to collaborating with our partners at state and federal agencies and in the environmental community to achieve strategic acquisitions like this one,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “This project will help protect water and natural resources for future generations.”

The ranch is part of a multi-agency conservation easement acquisition partnership in the Everglades Headwater National Wildlife Refuge. The partnership includes DEP, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Florida Forest Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The project is ranked number 9 on the Florida Forever Less-Than-Fee projects category. This easement will protect wetlands and sloughs that drain into Lake Marion and the Kissimmee River System, as well as the dry prairies and pine flatwood habitats that contain numerous wildlife.

“With over 1,000 people moving to Florida every day, we must continue to prioritize the conservation of our world-renowned natural spaces,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “With today’s conservation of Camp Lonesome, we’re able to preserve this invaluable piece of our rural economy and its environment benefits in a cost-effective way.”

“The Conservancy congratulates DEP on this important purchase,” said Lindsay Stevens, land program manager for the Nature Conservancy. “This easement will benefit the estuaries and water supply of this area, while also preserving economically sustainable ranching and protecting lands and waters for wildlife.”

"The conservation easement over the Big Bend Swamp/Holopaw Ranch is a key component of the greenway network between Three Lakes and Bull Creek water management areas and will contribute to the Everglades Headwater National Wildlife Refuge," said Kent Wimmer, Northwest Florida representative, Defenders of Wildlife. "We look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Forest Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and others to conserve habitat for imperiled species and the Florida Ecological Greenways Network."

“This easement creates a partnership and allows conservation of native habitats and ongoing economic use within the very important Everglades Headwaters area. Ranching, which is an important part of Florida’s economy and history within the Lake Okeechobee watershed, also plays an important role in managing water resources,” said Audubon Florida Executive Director Eric Draper.

A conservation easement is a restriction placed on a piece of property to protect lands for future generations, while allowing owners to continue to live on and use their land. Through this conservation easement, the State of Florida will protect the land and water resources found within the Camp Lonesome Ranch.