The state of Florida purchased 2,800 acres from The Nature Conservancy Tuesday to add to the Aucilla Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Jefferson County. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will manage the property, bought through the Florida Forever program using FWC’s funding for inholdings and additions to their managed areas.
The Nature Conservancy originally bought the property because of its significant resource value and its critically important location: It forms a two-mile boundary with the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and a three-mile boundary with the Aucilla WMA.
“Not only does this addition add to the conservation value of these existing lands, what had been an extremely narrow connection between St. Marks and Aucilla WMAs is expanded to over a mile in width,” said Callie DeHaven, The Nature Conservancy’s public lands protection manager in Tallahassee. “We are grateful to be able to continue to assemble these landscape linkages and for the partnerships we continue to forge in working to benefit future generations.”
The Conservancy acquired the land as part of a 10,000-acre transaction in January 2008 from Flint Rock Investments, LLC after it was sold by St. Joe Timberland Company of Delaware, LLC. The land is part of the St. Joe Timberland Florida Forever Project, a top-21 ranked project, and is also valued for its future benefit to allow species and habitat to adapt to climate change.
The property is part of a vision for a landscape linkage that includes the 2008 Wood Sink purchase to the north, important to the water quality of not only the St. Marks River but Apalachee Bay and the estuary at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. The land provides habitat for an abundance of wildlife, and the adjacent refuge is a known aggregation area for wading birds, waterfowl and songbirds — in the fall an astonishing migration of monarch butterflies occurs. In addition, the tract is home to important species such as Florida black bear, river otter, Eastern indigo snake and flatwoods salamander.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.