November 26, 2007

District partnering with Sarasota County on purchase

The Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board has approved a purchase from Mabry Carlton Ranch, Inc. that will provide added conservation protection to more than 12,000 acres as part of the Districts Myakkahatchee Creek project.

The District already owns a conservation easement for 4,746 acres and is now purchasing the remaining title to those conservation lands. In addition, the District is purchasing a perpetual conservation easement on an adjacent 7,630 acres.

Both parcels are located south of State Road 72, east of Myakka River State Park and the Districts Myakka Prairie Tract. The property will be added to the 94,000-acre Myakka core conservation area, which is a collection of contiguous public conservation lands owned by the state, the District and Sarasota County.

The total cost of the purchase is $51,813,488. The Districts share is $20,135,000 and will be composed of funds from the Florida Forever Trust Fund. Sarasota County will contribute $31,678,488 through its Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program. The purchase must be approved by the Sarasota County Commission.

Purchasing the remaining title to the 4,746-acre property will add significant acreage to Myakka core conservation area. The additional 7,630-acre conservation easement will provide a buffer of compatible agricultural lands. The purchase also provides further opportunities to eventually link the Districts nearby Lewis Longino Preserve and RV Griffin Reserve to the Myakka core conservation area. The acquisition is consistent with the Districts Florida Forever Work Plan as well as the Districts goals for water resource management.

Under the terms of the 7,630-acre conservation easement, the property owner may only construct a maximum of seven residences and a log cabin on the property. Cattle operations, limited agricultural operations and hunting will be allowed. The owner has also agreed to follow District guidelines to preserve the propertys water resources and natural systems.

Sarasota County will manage the 4,746-acre property. Management costs will be split equally between the District and the county. Based on the Districts average annual management cost of $15.07 an acre, the annual management cost for the property are estimated at $71,500. The property owner will be responsible for management costs of the conservation easement, which will be inspected annually by District staff.

The closing is scheduled to occur no later than Dec. 31, 2007.

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