State To Purchase Creek Ranch; Wildlife Corridor Victory

The owners of Creek Ranch on Lake Hatchineha Road have agreed to sell the property to the state under the Florida Forever program, The Ledger reports.

Rumors that a deal was pending had been circulating in recent weeks.

The property is scheduled to be managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee and will be used, among other things, as a youth conservation camp.

The deal, which will not become final until it is considered later this month by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet, will also end months of controversy over the future of the property.

Last year the County Commission approved a plan proposed by owner Reggie Baxter for a development containing hundreds of new homes and some commercial development.

The idea drew strong opposition from area residents and from the Sierra Club.

The opposition centered on the property’s location between vast stretches of conservation land.

To the south are The Nature Conservancy’s Hatchineha Ranch, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek State Park, Lake Kissimmee State Park and portions of Lakes Wales Ridge State Forest.

To the north lies the South Florida Water Management District’s Lake Marion Creek Wildlife Management Area and TNC’s Disney Wilderness Preserve.

Florida panthers and Florida black bear have been reported in the area, which is considered an important link in the Florida Wildlife Corridor. The corridor is also a migratory path for songbirds.

Although the initial discussion involved purchase of a conservation easement, the deal now involves the purchase of the entire ranch, including the ranch house and other buildings on the property.

The purchase price has not been made public.



Posted in Group Conservation Issues.