State Approves Creek Ranch Purchase

Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet quickly voted Tuesday to proceed with the purchase of 1,342-acre Creek Ranch near Lake Hatchineha in eastern Polk County.

The purchase price is $36.1 million. There was no word on when closing will occur to finalize the deal.

The ranch was the focus of a fight involving Sierra Club and others last year over a plan to develop the property into a residential-commercial project that would put urban growth deeper into what has traditionally been a rural area of Polk.

The property’s development would have interrupted a lengthy wildlife corridor stretching from the Everglades to near the Green Swamp where Florida panther and Florida black bear have been documented.

The lack of intense development there will also aid in maintaining some of the dark sky aspect of that area.

Once the state acquires the property, it will be managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as a wildlife management area. Agency officials say the plan to use the buildings on the grounds for staff housing and equipment storage.

There are also plans to organize youth conservation camp activities.   

Posted in Group Conservation Issues.