SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The state is moving forward to preserve more land in Sarasota County, including the 5,777-acre Orange Hammock Ranch and an additional 559 acres to be added to the Myakka Ranchlands.
The Orange Hammock Ranch is located on the north side of Interstate 75 within the City of North Port and connects RV Griffin Preserve with the Longino Preserve through about six miles of shared boundaries.
Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast played an integral role in getting the state to purchase the land at a price of $21 million, $1.5 million of which the Conservation Foundation will need to raise by June 1 to complete the purchase.
“We are grateful for the many people and organizations that elevated this project, keeping it in the spotlight. We are so close to making this extraordinary conservation project a success, and we now ask the community to help put it over the goal line,” said Christine Johnson, president. “I am proud of our board and staff’s tenacity for this project, which has the trifecta of benefits - drinking water, rare habitat, and unique public access.”
If you’d like to contribute, you can learn more here. The purchase will increase the 120,000-acre buffer surrounding the Myakka River and strengthen the connection between the Myakka and Peace Rivers.
Conversation Foundation says this area collects rainfall, feeding the Snover Waterway and RV Griffin reservoirs, both of which are critical sources of North Port’s clean drinking water. But the land, which is described as “nearly pristine,” will also benefit wildlife. It’s currently home to quail, indigo snake and the Florida black bear. Panthers have also been spotted.
The state also announced that an additional 559 acres are being purchased and added to another portion of the Myakka Ranchlands to protect delicate estuaries and rivers as well as 17 additional acres for River Rise State Park in Columbia County.