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By far the most destructive threat to the Santa Fe River, other than the DEP and the SRWMD, is development. And this was a narrow victory pulled out at the last minute by the Alachua Conservation Trust. This part of the river is fast becoming populated with houses so this purchase is of extreme importance. Thanks to the ACT over and over.
This purchase was also reported in the Gainesville Sun and can be seen at this link.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 9, 2021
Alachua Conservation Trust
Lianne D’Arcy, Outreach Coordinator
Land Trust Wins Auction – Secures Conservation Victory Along the Santa Fe River
– Back in March and April, the local newspapers were plastered in front-page ads for an upcoming online auction of 200 acres of pristine, undeveloped land along the Santa Fe River. To make it more enticing, the land was being offered up in six tracts, each around 35 acres. The pitch: come build your dream home on the river, or buy it all and build a couple dozen waterfront property homes for others. With Florida’s springs and waters already facing a multitude of serious threats, Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) quickly mobilized in early April to win the right to purchase the property for $1.9 million at the online auction, narrowly outbidding a real estate development group from Jacksonville. With this fast-acting move, ACT purchased the 200 acres of pristine bottomland forest along more than a mile of the Lower Santa Fe River.
A bridge loan from The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit conservation organization, allowed ACT to officially close on the property on July 22nd. ACT plans to fundraise to pay back the loan. Saved from potential residential development, the land creates a buffer along the river for flood protection, safeguards springs and other karst features and will give the public additional recreational opportunities. ACT will eventually open it to the public as Little Awesome Preserve. This project is a critical acquisition in the Santa Fe River Basin that benefits freshwater springs, closes current gaps in a key east to west wildlife corridor and reduces nutrient pollution to enhance the regional drinking water supply.
“The Santa Fe River and the communities that line its banks are incredibly lucky to have Alachua Conservation Trust as a partner. By stepping forward to compete in and then ultimately win the auction, the Trust has been heroic in their efforts to secure the pristine nature of this land for future generations to enjoy. It has been a privilege to be a part of this project,” said Reggie Hall, The Conservation Fund’s Director of Conservation Loans.
Little Awesome Preserve is located across the river from the Suwannee River Water Management District’s Santa Fe Springs Conservation Area. Numerous karst features, including Little Awesome Siphon, Camp Spring and Myrtle’s Fissure, are nestled within the forests of ACT’s latest conservation victory. These are key components of the unique Siphon Creek Cave System, well known and much beloved by cave divers, springs enthusiasts, and hydrologists. The adjacent upland forest, with towering pines and ancient live oaks, provides a wild and breath-taking buffer for the floodplain.
Just upriver from Little Awesome, ACT is working with the District and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to purchase Sawdust Spring, a third-magnitude spring. This 165-acre acquisition is set to close this fall.
“This is a huge conservation victory for the Lower Santa Fe River and springs,” said ACT executive director, Tom Kay. “With this purchase, several siphons, fissures and other vulnerable karst features will be protected from the impacts of development. The public will also have the opportunity to enjoy hiking this property and viewing the river, springs and an abundance of wildlife. We are especially grateful to our partners at The Conservation Fund for making it possible for us to move quickly to permanently protect this property.”
This project is one of many that ACT is focusing on within the Santa Fe River Corridor. Over 62% of the Santa Fe River is protected along one shore or the other as conservation land and ACT and its partners are working to protect as much as 75% of the river by 2045.
For more information about Alachua Conservation Trust or Little Awesome Preserve, call (352)
373-1078 or email [email protected]
Alachua Conservation Trust
7204 SE County Road 234, Gainesville, FL 32641
Since 1988, The mission of Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) is to protect the natural, historic,
scenic and recreational resources in and around North Central Florida. ACT protects land
through purchase, donation, and conservation easements in 16 counties.