When Development and Conservation Meet
By: Kyle Grammatica
The goals of land developers and environmentalists are often at ends. However, with the right people working together, compromises can be made that satisfy both groups. This was recently the case in Pasco County, where 843 acres were purchased from housing developers for conservation.
Pasco Country recently approved its largest ever environmental land purchase, buying 843 acres for $22 million. The land will secure habitat for Florida wildlife and will act as an extension of nearby Starkey Wilderness Preserve and Cypress Creek Preserve. The Starkey Wilderness Preserve contains a portion of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, making the newly purchased land a great sanctuary for Florida’s rare and migratory birds. The county says that the land will also protect the floodplains of the Pithlachascotee River and Five Mile Creek.
The land was purchased through the County’s Environmental Land Acquisition and Management Program (eLamp). With the newly secured 843 acres, the total amount of land preserved totals 6,973 acres. Commissioners approved the purchase unanimously in a great display of dedication to conservation. The land was originally part of a housing development plan, but the owners decided to make a statement about their belief that development can happen in an environmentally friendly way and sold the land to the county. The sellers also agreed to contribute $3 million and 40 acres of land towards a 147-acre park to be developed next to the land. More than half of the original development plan will be preserved.
“We are excited to partner with Pasco County to secure two of the most critical components of its ecological corridor. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a significant ecological impact that further emphasizes the transformative nature of Angeline [The housing project’s name],” said Mark Metheny, the division president of the development company Lennar.
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