DEP and the Nature Conservancy Connect Plank Road State Forest to Aucilla Wildlife Management Area

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DEP and The Nature Conservancy Connect Plank Road State Forest to Aucilla Wildlife Management Area

~The Fanlew Preserve timberland tract buffers and connects diverse habitats in Jefferson and Leon counties~


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection announces the addition of 611 acres to Plank Road State Forest. The Nature Conservancy partnered with DEP to acquire the parcel, which forms a corridor to conservation lands to the east and west. The tract helps form a connector from Plank Road State Forest to the Aucilla Wildlife Management Area.

“A primary goal of the Upper St. Marks River Corridor Florida Forever project is to buffer the upper St. Marks River from development and preserve its water quality,” said DEP Division of State Lands Director Callie DeHaven.

“It is our mission at The Nature Conservancy to ensure the long-term health of water sources and the safety of essential wildlife corridors throughout the state. By delivering Fanlew Preserve to DEP and by extension the people of Florida, we are helping to secure essential habitat for many native species, including the Florida black bear," said TNC Florida Executive Director Temperince Morgan. "The tract offers wildlife safe access to a much larger territory for them to thrive within and provides with a natural, carefully preserved landscape to explore."

Public acquisition of this land contributes to the Florida Forever goals of protecting Florida’s biodiversity at the species, natural community, and landscape levels and begins a long-sought and permanent wildlife corridor along the St. Marks River. The project is also important to protect water resources and the surrounding area, plus 12 known historic sites, and increase public recreational and educational opportunities.

The landscape connectivity and diversity provided by the Upper St. Marks River Corridor project has the potential for many resource-based public outdoor recreational activities, including canoeing, fishing, hiking, hunting and wildlife viewing. This project is an excellent recreational trail opportunity, which provides a connection to other conservation and recreation lands in Leon, Jefferson and Wakulla counties. 

“This acquisition will enhance public recreation access in Plank Road State Forest and provide ample opportunities for healthy forest management in the future,” said Jim Karels, State Forester and Director of the Florida Forest Service.

Public lands help ensure Florida’s residents and visitors have the opportunity to access and enjoy Florida’s unique landscapes. Florida Forever is the state's conservation and recreation lands acquisition program, a blueprint for conserving our natural resources and renewing our commitment to conserve our natural and cultural heritage. 

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Division of State Lands is Florida’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship, serving as staff to the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund. Florida's state forests are managed and preserved for enjoyment by current and future generations through providing appropriate resource-based recreational opportunities, interpretation and education that help visitors connect to the Real Florida.