The Nature Conservancy on Tuesday acquired from Jacksonville-based Rayonier Forest Resources, L.P. and then immediately transferred to the state a key 400-acre addition to the Silver River State Park in Marion County.
Protected are 374 upland acres and 26 wetland acres, comprised of forest and imbedded wetlands, which provide more foraging and habitat connectivity for the threatened Florida black bear.
The property was immediately transferred to the state, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will manage it as an addition to the park. The permanent protection of this site will allow increased fire management of Silver River State Park, important to the condition of its flatwoods.
The protection also removes the threat of subdivision and residential development. Because of its proximity to Ocala, the project was a candidate for rural residential development that would result in habitat conversion, ownership fragmentation and eventually housing construction.
“We are excited to have helped with the expansion of this park and thank The Felburn Foundation for its contribution to allow this to happen,” said Jeff Danter, Nature Conservancy state director.
“We are pleased to be a part of this transaction, which really highlights the community and conservation benefits that can ensue when conservation groups, states and companies like Rayonier work together,” said Lee Thomas, Rayonier’s chairman and CEO.
The park has more than 10 distinct natural communities, dozens of springs and miles of trails, and provides hiking, bicycling, canoeing, picnic areas, camping, and cabin rental opportunities.
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.