North Florida Land Trust has conserved hundreds of acres surrounding Camp Blanding
The acquisition was made possible through a partnership with Camp Blanding and the Clay County Development Authority
By: North Florida Land Trust
"This land is a wonderful natural space that is now protected from development and provides opportunities for hiking, bird watching, and other outdoor activities,"
The property contains significant areas of longleaf pine sandhills, which have declined in Florida because of development and land conversion. These uplands provide habitat for the Gopher tortoise, a State-Threatened species and a candidate species for possible listing as Federally-Threatened. Other inhabitants of the sandhills include the wild turkey, southern fox squirrel, and Eastern indigo snake. The property encompasses part of Smith Lake which provides habitat for numerous wading birds such as State-Threatened sandhill cranes and Federally-Threatened wood storks.
"This is a big win for the Florida Trail and Florida hikers," said David Waldrop, president of the Florida Trail Association (FTA). "We will be working with our partner, North Florida Land Trust, to re-route the Trail through the newly acquired conservation lands, and bring people closer to Florida's beautiful natural areas. We thank NFLT and the funders who made this acquisition happen. It is through great partnerships like this that the Florida Trail will be completed one day."
NFLT will manage the new preserve to improve the natural areas and habitats and will work with the FTA on the new trail route. This will help further FTA's mission to build a 1,300 mile-long trail across Florida's most iconic and scenic natural landscapes. The acquisition was made possible by funding from the Army National Guard through a program designed to secure buffers around military installations and the Clay County Development Authority which was awarded funds by the Florida Defense Task Force to buffer the installation. NFLT also recently acquired 20 acres adjacent to Camp Blanding that expands the Trail Ridge Preserve which was also funded through the partnership with Camp Blanding.